January 28, 2020

Bloomberg Video: Better Land Use a Priority, Vilsack Says

From Bloomberg News, Sep. 28- “U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack talks about the country’s farming industry, the need to improve how land resources are used, and global demand for food. Vilsack speaks on Bloomberg Television’s ‘Conversations with Judy Woodruff.’ (Source: Bloomberg).”


USDA Monthly Ag Prices Report

On September 27, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released its monthly Agricultural Prices report.

In part, the NASS report stated that: “The corn price, at $7.35 per bushel, is down 28 cents from last month but 97 cents above September 2011…The soybean price, at $16.30 per bushel, increased 10 cents from August and is $4.10 above September 2011…[and]]…The September all wheat price, at $8.49 per bushel, is up 45 cents from August and 95 cents above September 2011.”

The following graphs were also included the NASS report (click on graph for full-size view).


Ag Committee Portrait Unveiling of Senator Tom Harkin

Categories: Rural America

From Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D., Iowa) office, Sep. 26:


Farm Bill; Ag Economy; Biofuels and, Trade

Farm Bill –Policy Issues

The AP reported yesterday that, “Idaho’s $2 billion milk industry failed to convince Congress this month to pass the new federal farm bill and its provisions to help dairies mitigate rising grain costs and volatile markets that have pushed them to three quarters of losses.

“Though a farm bill cleared the U.S. Senate, it’s languished in the House.”

The article noted that, “Bob Naerebout, director of the Idaho Dairymens Association, said Wednesday his members are disappointed by the delay, as they want the dairy-related provisions enacted quickly to help them re-emerge from nine months of losses. While grain farmers can wait until next planting season, he said dairies need relief now from rising feed prices that have driven dairies’ costs above profitable levels.

“‘We harvest a crop every day, 365 days of the year,’ Naerebout said. ‘It’s critical for us to have stability in the farm bill.’”


ABC News: Healthy Lunch Complaints

Categories: Farm Bill

From ABC News Sept. 26- “According to Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the solution to the growing grumbling over re-vamped school lunch menus boils down to a good old fashioned snack.”

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Rep. Boswell Talks Farm Bill with Des Moines Register

Categories: Farm Bill

Yesterday Rep. Leonard Boswell (D., Iowa), who currently serves on the Ag Committee, sat down with The Des Moines Register editorial board for a wide-ranging discussion on issues associated with his race for Congress in Iowa’s new Third Congressional District against Rep. Tom Latham (R).

During the discussion, the topic of the stalled Farm Bill came up; to listen to a portion of this part of yesterday’s Register interview with Rep. Boswell, click on the listen bar below.

In part, Rep. Boswell discussed the importance of crop insurance, and biofuels, while expressing his frustration that Speaker Boehner has not let the Farm Bill passed by the Ag Committee come to the floor for debate and a vote.

He was asked about the idea of putting conservation compliance requirements on producers in order to make them eligible for crop insurance. Rep. Boswell indicated that he thinks that idea should be discussed and noted that there is “not too much land around” that “hasn’t had conservation practices take place.”

Rep. Boswell also noted that Rep. Latham has not been able to persuade the Speaker on the Farm Bill- related audio below:

And Rep. Boswell also talked about nutrition issues and the SNAP program, related clip below:

For more information on Rep. Latham’s visit with The Des Moines Register editorial board, just click here.


Farm Bill; Budget Concerns; Biofuels; and the, Ag Economy

Farm Bill -Policy Issues

The editorial board at the Minneapolis Star Tribune noted earlier this week that, “The 2008 federal farm bill is set to expire this week because conservative House Republicans are more interested in campaigning for re-election than in doing the work required to adopt new legislation. The inaction may hurt the GOP’s effort to reclaim a majority in the U.S. Senate because of backlash in North Dakota, Montana, Indiana and other rural states with tightly contested races — and rightly so.

“The Senate did its job in June and adopted a five-year, $497 billion bill on a 64-35 vote. Although imperfect, the Senate’s bill would save taxpayers $23 billion over 10 years. But in the House, Speaker John Boehner refused to allow a vote on the bill proposed by the House Agriculture Committee until after the November election.

“At a time when rural America has been hammered by drought, GOP leaders are putting their self-interests before the needs of those they purport to serve. While Boehner insists he doesn’t have the votes for the bill, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers, including Minnesota Democrat Collin Peterson, openly challenged that assertion last week.”


GOP Edge For U.S. Senate Slips

Categories: Farm Bill

Both The Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times included front page stories today on the status of the U.S. Senate elections.

The Journal article (“GOP Fight for Control of Senate Hits Snags“) noted that, “Handicappers from both parties had predicted Indiana would be an easy win for Republicans, but the race is now a tossup. The surprisingly close contest adds to the challenges for a party once considered likely to regain a Senate majority, but now facing a number of setbacks.”

The article explained that, “Republicans entered this election season expecting to pick up enough Senate seats to overcome the Democrats’ 53-47 majority. Six years ago, a big Democratic surge had given the party victories in Republican-leaning states such as Montana, Virginia and Missouri. This year, Republicans figured that they could take those seats back.

But a string of surprising developments—including Republican Olympia Snowe giving up her Maine seat and Indiana’s Dick Lugar losing in a GOP primary—have made many races unexpectedly competitive. Some Democratic candidates are rising in tandem with President Barack Obama’s standing in polls, while Democrats in more conservative states are successfully distancing themselves from the president.”

Similarly, the LA Times article (“Democrats gain favor in battle for Senate“), which included the graphic below, stated that, “The battle for control of the Senate, which had favored Republicans for much of this election year, has abruptly shifted, with Democrats sharply improving their odds of keeping the majority.”

Some policy observers and lawmakers have suggested that if the Senate were to change to GOP control, perhaps the legislative branch would start over on the Farm Bill process in the next Congress.


CBS Video- School Lunch Issue

Categories: Farm Bill

From CBS News- Sep. 26- “Michelle Obama has supported a plan that would reduce calories in school lunches. New federal guidelines [Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act], in line with Michelle Obama’s health advocacy, went into effect at schools across the country. Among other measures, the guidelines limit calorie counts in public school lunches. Now there are some students who are creatively criticizing the new lunch regulations in a protest video they made is going viral.”

This video aired today on the CBS “This Morning” program.

For more background on this issue, see this update from Sep. 18, which included remarks on this topic from Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R., Kan.).


Rep. Latham Talks Farm Bill with Des Moines Register

Categories: Farm Bill

Yesterday Rep. Tom Latham (R., Iowa) sat down with The Des Moines Register editorial board for a wide-ranging discussion on issues associated with his race for Congress in Iowa’s Third Congressional District against Rep. Leonard Boswell (D), who currently serves on the Agriculture Committee.

During the discussion, the topic of the stalled Farm Bill came up; to listen to this portion of yesterday’s Register interview with Rep. Latham, click on the listen bar below.

In part, Rep. Latham talked about the traditional rural – urban coalition that typically works together to get a Farm Bill passed, as well as nutrition issues and the SNAP (food stamps) program.

For more information on Rep. Boswell’s visit with The Des Moines Register editorial board, just click here.


Farm Bill; and, the Ag Economy

Farm Bill Issues

House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D., Minn.) was a guest on yesterday’s AgriTalk radio program with Mike Adams where the conversation focused on the Farm Bill.

An audio replay of this portion of yesterday’s AgriTalk program can be heard here (MP3- 12:52), while an unofficial transcript of yesterday’s discussion is available here.

Rep. Peterson indicated that, “[House Speaker] John Boehner [R., Ohio] has wanted to do [the Farm Bill] in lame duck all along. I had discussions with him this summer, and he said, well, we’re going to handle it in the lame duck. So hopefully we will have an ally in the speaker in bringing this up in the lame duck session, and that should be helpful.

But one of the things I’m concerned about is there is no real work going on. We’re just kind of waiting right now. And I’m a little bit worried about having enough time during the lame duck to get this done. We’re going to have to move this early, as soon as we get back, on the House floor in order to get it into conference and get it worked out and get it back on the floor before we adjourn for Christmas.”

Ranking Member Peterson added that, “[Speaker Boehner] wants to do a bill. He’s never been for an extension, I don’t think. He’s not been the problem. The problem has been [House Majority Leader Eric] Cantor [R., Va.] and his allies. There’s a hundred and some of them that probably have ten different reasons why they’re against this. Some of them think we haven’t made enough reform in the commodity title. Some of them don’t like the sugar program, some of them don’t like the dairy program, some of them it’s food stamps. They want to cut more out of food stamps. So they’re all over the map.

And there’s a fair number of them, a hundred, a hundred and some Republicans. And that’s been the problem. They haven’t wanted to bring this up when they’re divided within their caucus. But this 90 day extension that was tried, that was a bunch of nonsense, because there was nothing that was going to happen in 90 days. The first problem was 91 days. So if they were going to do an extension at that point, they should have done a longer one.”


Ga. Rep. Bishop talks Farm Bill

Categories: Farm Bill

From WALB-10 News (Albany, Ga.) Sep. 24. Rep. Sanford Bishop (D., Ga.) indicated this week on a local television station that, “Without some sense of certainty, it throws everything into a big question mark and of course that means farmers are limited in their ability to get credit because the lenders are limited in their ability to predict the capacity of the farmers to repay their loans.”, Albany News, Weather, Sports


Rep. Edwards Requests GOP Leadership Return, Work on Farm Bill, other Bills

Categories: Farm Bill

From C-SPAN, Sep. 25- Today on the House Floor, during pro forma session, Representative Donna Edwards (D., Md.) made a request to call Congress back into session to take up legislation Democrats wanted debated and passed, including the Farm Bill. The Speaker Pro Tempore, Steven C. LaTourette (R., Ohio) ruled that Representative Edwards had not put forth a proper parliamentary inquiry.

Seung Min Kim reported today at Politico that, “Let the recess shenanigans begin.

“House Democrats kicked off the six-week stretch until the Nov. 6 election with a futile push during Tuesday’s pro forma session to act on the impending fiscal cliff, reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and the farm bill.

“‘The American people deserve answers, and they deserve action,’ Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) said on the House floor, addressing Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio), who presided over the brief session. ‘They deserve more than simply a pro forma session … Democrats are committed to returning to Washington.'”

The Politico article added that, “Kevin Smith, a Boehner spokesman, replied to Tuesday’s episode: ‘While the president and Senate Democrats have done nothing, Republicans have passed legislation to stop all the looming tax hikes that will cost 700,000 jobs and replace the president’s sequester that threatens our troops.

“‘If House Democrats are so desperate to work on these issues, they should call the president and Senate Democrats and ask them to get their act together,’ Smith added.”


Farm Bill – Policy Issues; Budget; and, the Ag Economy

Farm Bill – Policy Issues

Alex Daniels reported yesterday at The Arkansas Democrat Gazette Online that, “Unable to complete work on a comprehensive agriculture bill Friday, lawmakers streamed out of Washington for the next two months to harvest votes.

“The Senate passed its version of the farm bill in June, and the House Agriculture Committee followed in July, passing its version on a lopsided bipartisan vote. But as election season neared, the House Republican leadership declined to put the matter up for a floor vote.”

The article noted that, “Arkansas’ U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat, said he was ‘puzzled’ about the House’s inaction.

“‘Frustrated’ is how his Republican colleague, Arkansas’ U.S. Sen. John Boozman, put it.

“Both senators voted against the bill in the upper chamber on the belief that it treated Southern growers unfairly compared with their Midwestern counterparts. But they thought the House bill addressed those concerns and that a compromise between the two could be reached before Congress recessed.”


From USDA: Healthier Soils To Get Through Drought

Categories: Conservation


Farm Bill; Rice; Ag Economy; and, Trade

Farm Bill Issues

Molly K. Hooper reported on Saturday morning at The Hill Online that, “Lawmakers supportive of a stalled House farm bill say they have the votes to pass the measure.

“Those assertions, made Friday by Republicans and Democrats, directly contradict recent claims by GOP leaders. Before recessing the House on Friday, Republican leaders said the reason why they weren’t moving the five-year bill was because it lacked the votes.”


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