Farm Bill–Policy Issues (Budget, Prop. 37), Political Notes
Ken Anderson reported yesterday at Brownfield that, “Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley believes the outcome of the Presidential election will determine whether the 2008 farm bill is extended or a new five-year farm bill is passed during the lame duck session.
“Grassley says if President Obama is re-elected, he thinks taxes and the fiscal cliff will be the main focus of the lame duck session.
“‘If Obama is re-elected and we have to deal with taxes and the fiscal cliff in November and December, I think it’s going to be pretty difficult to get more than a five-month extension of the farm bill,’ Grassley says. ‘If Romney would be elected and we put taxes and the fiscal cliff six months into next year, then there will be more time—and there might be time for a five-year farm bill.’”
Recall that a report over the weekend at The Hill Online indicated that, “…[T]he last best hope for the 2012 farm bill to pass will be if it is riding on fiscal cliff legislation…‘People on both sides of the aisle have made it clear to me that the only way it will be passed is as part of the fiscal cliff bill, if there is one,’ one lobbyist said.”
Joanie Stiers reported yesterday at The Register-Mail (Galesburg, Il.) Online that, “Farmers fertilize fields and order seed for the next growing season, while uncertain of the agricultural policies in their toolbox.
“Congress failed to pass a new farm bill before the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 expired Sept. 30. The inaction disappoints farmers and some legislators alike.
“‘Mostly it’s the uncertainty of not knowing what tools we’ll have to plan with,’ said Deb Moore, a Roseville cattle, corn and soybean farmer.”
Farm Bill and the Budget Process –Policy Issues, Political Notes
Erik Wasson reported on Saturday at The Hill’s On the Money Blog that, “House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) caused a stir on Thursday when he seemed to indicate that a standalone farm bill would come to the House floor after the Nov. 6 election.
“But lobbyists said the remarks mean, at best, that a modified farm bill could be wrapped into a lame-duck bill dealing with expiring tax cuts and automatic spending cuts.”
Dan Piller reported in today’s Des Moines Register that,”A record farmland sale of $21,900 per acre in Sioux County is a fresh example that last summer’s drought has only added more fuel to Iowa’s farmland boom.
“‘We didn’t get hit as hard as people thought we would last summer,’ said Mike Duffy of Iowa State University Extension and author of an annual survey of Iowa farm land prices. Many Iowa farmers had better-than-expected corn yields, despite the worst drought in a half-century. (Click on above graphic for full view).
“The sale of 80 acres Thursday isn’t an isolated example. Another Sioux County tract went for $19,100 on Tuesday, and a 74-acre parcel near Carroll sold last Saturday for $16,000 per acre. A week ago an O’Brien County farm near Sheldon brought $15,400 an acre.”
Dan Popkey reported on Wednesday evening at the Idaho Statesman Online that, “Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said Wednesday in Boise that the House will vote on a stalled Farm Bill during the post-election lame duck session.
“Cantor was in Boise helping 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, raise money. Labrador opposes holding votes between the election and the swearing in of a new Congress in January. Labrador also rebuffed the Idaho dairy industry, which urged him to join 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, in pressing Cantor to schedule a vote before the election recess.
Marc Lifsher reported today at the Los Angeles Times Online that, “Once riding high, Proposition 37, the statewide ballot measure to label genetically engineered foods, has seen its voter support plummet during the last month, and a new poll shows the high-stakes battle now is a dead heat.”
Today’s update included the following video, and this graphic.
“The White House relented to a suggestion by the Register in a blog post Tuesday that the interview become on the record.”
Mr. Dennis pointed out that, “Obama told the Register that if he is re-elected, he expects a deal in the coming months on a ‘grand bargain’ that would cut health care costs while raising taxes on the wealthy.
“‘It will probably be messy. It won’t be pleasant. But I am absolutely confident that we can get what is the equivalent of the grand bargain that essentially I’ve been offering to the Republicans for a very long time, which is $2.50 worth of cuts for every dollar in spending, and work to reduce the costs of our health care programs,’ he said.”
A news release today from National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS) indicated that, “‘Some of the same people who had to deal with the floods last year along the Mississippi and Missouri rivers are now dealing with the opposite – extreme drought,’ says Calamus, Iowa, claims supervisor David Bousselot, in a new NCIS video released today (available below).
“The video highlights the critical role that many of the 5,000 claims adjusters play in helping farmers pick up the pieces after the worst drought in decades, with $3 billion already in the hands of farmers. ‘The adjuster is the connection with the producer,’ says Bousselot.
“Throughout most of the summer, more than 60 percent of the continental U.S. was locked in drought, which sent corn and soybean yields plummeting. ‘I think it was a combination of the lack of moisture and the heat we had in early July that just cooked the corn,’ says claims adjuster Tim Totherot of Wellington, Illinois.”
The NCIS release added that, “Robert Geddes, a farmer from Hoopeston, Illinois, explains that after he experienced his first drought as a farmer, he had a chat with a local adjuster and has been purchasing crop insurance ever since. ‘It’s in the nasty years like this that it really helps,’ he said. ‘If you miss a crop, things will go downhill for a farmer in a hurry,’ he added.”
Dan Piller reported in yesterday’s Des Moines Register that, “U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsacksaid Monday that a link between federal crop insurance and conservation compliance ‘just isn’t going to happen’ in any new farm bill to be debated after the November election.
“‘I’ve talked with the (congressional) leadership and members, and there just isn’t support for it,’ Vilsack said of proposals to make conservation and environmental rules compliance mandatory for farmers to qualify for federally subsidized crop insurance.”
Mr. Piller noted that, “Vilsack, meeting with Des Moines Register editors, said the leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives has deliberately bottled up the farm bill so it can impose reductions in farm programs deeper than the $23 billion taken in the Senate bill.
“The conservation question has hung over the bill because the likely end of federal direct payments to farmers, which contained the conservation lever, would leave the USDA and other federal agencies without the force of law. The crop insurance section in the farm bill hasn’t had a conservation compliance requirement since 1996.
“‘The feeling is that some type of voluntary, incentive-based conservation system would work just as well,’ said Vilsack.”
Vicki Needham reported yesterday at The Hill’s On the Money Blog that, “A free trade agreement between the United States and Panama will go into effect at the end of the month, the last of three deals passed a year ago.
“U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Ricardo Quijano, Panama’s minister of Commerce and Industry, exchanged letters on Monday locking in Oct. 31 for implementation of the FTA.
“‘Under this comprehensive agreement, Panama will eliminate tariffs and other barriers to U.S. exports, which will promote economic growth, and expand trade between our two countries,’ Kirk said Monday.”
The AP reported yesterday that, “Small dairy farmers in the Northeast and Wisconsin say a tough year has been made worse by Congress’ failure to pass a new farm bill before the old one expired.
“While many farm programs have continued through the harvest season even though the farm bill expired Sept. 30, a program that pays dairy farmers when milk prices plummet has ended.
“Many dairy farms were already struggling with low milk prices and high fuel and feed costs as the worst drought in decades dried up grazing land and pushed up the price of hay and feed. Dozens in states like California, the nation’s leading milk producer, have filed for bankruptcy.”
Perry Beeman and Dan Piller reported in today’s Des Moines Register that, “Iowa and the rest of the Midwest are likely to be warmer and drier than normal in early winter, the National Weather Service projected on Thursday.
“Forecasters said there is little evidence the drought will ease, though it might shift to the west. That would still leave the Midwest solidly in the drought, which has cut corn yields, threatened drinking water supplies and dried wetlands used by wildlife.”
The Register article included these graphs (click on graph for expanded view):
Beeman and Dan Piller added that, “Farmers are watching particularly closely because if Iowa’s fields don’t get significant rain by Dec. 1, next year’s corn seeds will get off to another thirsty start, state agriculture officials say.”
The Register article explained that, “Because corn and soybean prices are 20 to 25 percent higher this year than last, the economic impact on Iowa agriculture from the 2012 drought will be muted. Farmers expect to reap close to the record $20 billion in cash receipts they enjoyed in 2011.
“Iowa hog and cattle producers will face most of the negative effects. They are girding to pay record feed costs for what is the nation’s largest hog inventory and fifth-largest cattle feeding stock. Hog producers are expected to finish the year in the red and, barring an unexpected turnaround, will suffer similar losses next year, according to Steve Meyer of Paragon Economics, an analyst for pork producers’ organizations.”
In part, the ERS report stated that, “USDA raised its forecast of the 2012 U.S. soybean yield this month to 37.8 bushels per acre. Coupled with a 1.1-million-acre increase in harvested acreage, a higher yield boosts the forecast of 2012 U.S. soybean production by 226 million bushels this month to 2.86 billion. USDA raised its 2012/13 export forecast by 210 million bushels to 1.265 billion. Similarly, the expected crush for 2012/13 is up 40 million bushels from the September forecast to 1.54 billion.
“Based primarily on a larger U.S. crop, global soybean production for 2012/13 is forecast up to 264.3 million metric tons from 258.1 million last month. An improved U.S. export share in 2012/13 would moderate soybean exports from Brazil and Argentina to 37.4 million tons and 12 million tons, respectively.”
The ERS report contained this graph depicting 2012/13 soybean supply, exports and domestic crush (click on the graphs for full, expanded view):
Last week’s ERS report added that, “In September, a better yield outlook and the surge of U.S. new-crop supplies into the market moderated soybean prices. Between late August and early October, central Illinois cash prices plunged by more than $2 per bushel to around $15.25 per bushel. USDA lowered its forecast of the U.S. season-average farm price to $14.25- $16.25 per bushel from $15-$17 last month. Price relief may prove to be short- lived, however. Once the harvest finishes and demand accelerates, upward momentum for soybean prices could soon build again.”
Farm Bill –Policy Issues (Conservation, Nutrition, Trade, Regulations, Labor), Political Notes
Randy Olson reported in yesterday’s Sauk Herald (Sauk Centre, Minn.) that, “As stark as the outlook is for the hard-to-handle U.S. federal budget, Congressman Collin Peterson (DFL-Detroit Lakes) has a simple message for people to take to heart. ‘We’ll all have to pay a little more, and we’ll all get a little less,’ Peterson said during an interview on Monday in Sauk Centre. ‘It’s not an appealing message to share during election season, but we have to get our budget under control,’ the 11term congressman added.”
The article noted that, “As the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, Peterson has been at the front of Farm Bill policy discussions since they began three years ago. ‘I worked during my last term on the Farm Bill, when Democrats were in the majority and I was Chairman,’ Peterson explained. ‘We were the only committee working under the Super Committee in 2011 who produced a bill. When the Super Committee fell apart, we took Farm Bill discussion to the Senate and took it up in the House this past July. After 13 hours in committee and 99 amendments, we got it out pretty much how we put it together’…‘We had a deal that included major spending cuts, but the Republicans in the House didn’t bring it up,’ Peterson stated. ‘We had plenty of time to finish it, but they broke two weeks early. Right-wing groups like Club for Growth said if anyone voted for it, they would get a negative score. Many Congressmen have farmers in their districts but left them out to dry.’”
Joel Myhre reported yesterday at the Fergus Falls Journal (Minn.) Online that, “Holding down Minnesota’s Seventh District for 21 years, DFL Congressman Collin Peterson is running for another term with his focus on the farm bill and responsible government spending…‘My number one priority is to get the farm bill done,’ he said. ‘That has been my focus and will continue to be my focus until it’s done.’”
A news releaseon October 18 from the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts indicated that, “A major dust storm that closed down interstate 35 in north central Oklahoma provides a vivid example of why it’s critical that the State and Federal Government not turn their back on natural resource conservation and that Farmers and Ranchers continue to practice good soil stewardship on their land according to Joe Parker, President of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts (OACD).
“‘Conservation is critical to the state of Oklahoma and you only have to look at what happened today in Kay County to understand why,’ Parker said. ‘The record drought we have been experiencing coupled with high winds and exposed soils combined to create conditions ripe for this sort of situation. This is exactly why we need to protect our natural resources and why we all need to maintain a focus on good conservation.’
“On Thursday October 18, wind gusts as high as 55 miles an hour blew a massive dust storm through northern Oklahoma that reduced visibility to less than 10 feet. Near black-out conditions forced the closure of Interstate 35 near the Kansas-Oklahoma border. According to OACD Executive Director Clay Pope, this is exactly why soil conservation should be front and center in the minds of both agriculture producers and policy makers.”
Photos of the dust storm, from KOCO-TV Oklahoma City News Channel 5, have been posted below: