FarmPolicy

July 23, 2014

Bloomberg Video: How Will Immigration Reform Impact Agriculture?

Categories: Immigration

From Bloomberg News, Jan. 29, “Bloomberg’s Alan Bjerga discusses how President Barack Obama’s immigration reform will impact the agriculture industry. He speaks on Bloomberg Television’s ‘Bloomberg Rewind.’”

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Policy Issues; Budget, Ag Economy; and, Immigration

Farm Bill and Policy Issues

A news release yesterday from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) indicated that, “[USDA- FSA] Administrator Juan Garcia today announced that beginning Feb. 5, USDA will issue payments to dairy farmers enrolled in the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program for the September 2012 marketings. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 extended the authorization of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (the 2008 Farm Bill) through 2013 for many programs administered by FSA, including MILC. The 2008 Farm Bill extension provides for a continuation of the MILC program through Sept. 30, 2013.”

The release added that, “The payment rate for September 2012 is approximately $0.59 per hundredweight. The payment rate for October 2012 marketings is approximately $0.02 per hundredweight. The payment rate for November 2012 marketings is zero.”

A recent editorial at Hoard’s Dairyman Online noted that, “As far as dairy is concerned, 2013 will be much of the same with renewal of the MILC program (Milk Income Loss Contract), Dairy Export Incentive Program (DEIP) and dairy product price supports. Unfortunately, DEIP and the dairy price support program represent outdated safety net initiatives that offer no peace of mind for dairy producers nor does it account for the escalating price of feed. That being the case, neither will generate stability under current market conditions. While MILC was renewed with a $7.35 ration adjuster at 45 percent of production, it too offers no projected support based on current futures contracts. Plus, not all milk production is eligible due to its production caps.

“In light of the legislative stalemate, the Dairy Security Act (DSA) was kicked to the wayside. While it didn’t receive praise from many processors and a few producer groups due to production controls during periods of high milk supply, it did offer margin protection or insurance based on a balanced approach of milk prices and feed costs. The DSA also represented the broadest and most public dairy producer led policy discussion our industry has seen in some time.”

Meanwhile, Jim Dickrell noted on Tuesday at AgWeb Online that, “If the farm bill is ever to pass, it will have to go through a more normal legislative process, say lobbyists who have worked on Capitol Hill for years.

It cannot be wedged into larger budget bills that get rammed through Congress without debate.”

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Drought Affecting Food Prices In 2013

From USDA, Jan. 30, “A USDA economist says the persistent drought in the Midwest will lead to higher than normal food price inflation for the rest of the year.”

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Farm Bill; Budget; Ag Economy; and, Immigration

Farm Bill- Policy Issues

Mitch Lies reported last earlier this week [Jan. 28.] at the Capital Press (Salem, Ore.) Online that, “House Speaker John Boehner refused to bring the farm bill to a vote last year because he disagreed with the bill’s dairy policy, Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., said.

“‘That’s the real story,’ Schrader said.

“And whether a new farm bill passes any time soon hinges on a resolution of the differences in dairy policy preferences between Boehner and House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., Schrader said.”

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Farm Bill; Regulations, Trade- Ag Economy; and, Immigration

Farm Bill

A news release Friday from University of Missouri Extension indicated that, “Although Congress extended the farm bill until Sept. 30, 2013, the director of the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri says several factors may cause Congress to revisit the legislation sooner rather than later.

“‘There’s a very good chance there could be changes in this legislation long before we get to September,’ Pat Westhoff said. ‘Not because we’ll necessarily pass a new five-year farm bill right away, but because upcoming negotiations on fiscal issues may cause us to make further cuts in programs to try to meet budgetary targets. That can mean changes in farm bill provisions even for the crop we harvest this fall.’

“Westhoff says that agricultural programs may be cut as part of three related budget debates that will occur over the next several weeks.”

Yesterday’s update also pointed out that, “Westhoff says many things could happen in the next several months that might affect farm program spending.

“‘In addition to the across-the-board sequestration, there are also annual appropriation bills that have to be passed in the next couple of months, and there is also the debt limit,’ he said. Both of those debates could also lead to proposals to cut farm program spending as part of broader efforts to limit government spending.

“‘I think a lot of people have assumed that we’ve got our farm bill in place for 2013, and it’s true as long as Congress doesn’t pass any new legislation,’ Westhoff said. ‘I think it would be a mistake to assume these things are written in stone. Some in Congress may want to come back and at least reexamine if not actually make changes in the bill they approved a month ago.’”

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Farm Bill; Biofuels; and, Immigration

Farm Bill Issues

Erik Wasson reported on Saturday at The Hill’s On the Money Blog that, “The fate of a 2013 farm bill could come down to a key meeting in early February between two dairy policy adversaries: Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Agriculture Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.).

The two are slated to try to hash out differences on farm policy after the House returns to work on Feb. 4.

“‘We’re going to sit down together so we’ll see,’ Peterson told The Hill this week.”

Mr. Wasson noted that, “This week, [Rep. Peterson] sounded more optimistic that farm reform legislation could get done.

“‘We’ll have a markup in April or May, sometime around then,’ [Rep. Peterson] predicted…[P]eterson said the process would not move forward until the House and Senate resolve differences on budget matters.”

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Farm Bill; Ag Economy; Regulations; Senate; and, CFTC

Farm Bill

Gannett writer Christopher Doering reported earlier this week that, “The House Agriculture Committee has not decided when it will begin the arduous task of crafting a new farm bill, the head of the panel said Wednesday.

“Rep. Frank Lucas, R- Okla., said there are a lot of moving parts that are delaying action by the committee.”

Collin Peterson of Minnesota, the top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, said lawmakers representing rural areas need to first see how they fare in the budget discussions,” the article said.

Mr. Doering noted that, “Peterson said the divide over the scope of cuts to nutrition programs, widely blamed last year for derailing hopes of passing a new farm law, was overblown. Republicans, he said, merely used it as a reason to give the public to explain why the bill was being delayed… [F]or now, Peterson said the committee is looking for guidance from House and Senate leaders as to how big the cuts to nutrition programs should be. ‘We have a list of changes that can be made to reduce the food stamp budget, so all we need is a number,’ said Peterson.”

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Farm Bill; Policy Issues; and, Ag Economy

Farm Bill, Budget Issues, Crop Insurance

Ron Hays, of the Oklahoma Farm Report and Radio Oklahoma Network, spoke yesterday with House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R., Okla.) about a variety of current policy variables including the Farm Bill, budget issues and the agricultural economy.

An audio replay and summary of the Chairman’s remarks from yesterday can be found here, while an unofficial FarmPolicy.com transcript of the conversation with Ron Hays and Chairman Lucas is available here.

Yesterday’s interview occurred after a Business Meeting at the House Agriculture Committee, where the Members met to formally organize and to adopt the Committee’s rules for the 113th Congress.

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Farm Bill; Trade; Budget; and, the Ag Economy

Farm Bill- Policy Issues

A news release yesterday from the House Agriculture Committee stated that, “Today, Chairman Frank Lucas released the following statement in response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s announcement that enrollment for farm programs for the 2013 crop year begins next month.

“‘I want to commend Secretary Vilsack for today’s announcement that sign-up for farm programs, including direct payments, will begin on February 19th. It is vitally important that our farmers, and lenders alike, know that Congress and the Administration intend to keep the commitment made with the one-year extension of the 2008 farm bill. Short of a five-year bill, this extension provides certainty for the 2013 crop year.’”

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Inaugural Address- Policy Issues; Budget; and, the Ag Economy

Inaugural Address, and Other Issues (Farm Bill, Food Safety, Biofuels)

Carol E. Lee reported in today’s Wall Street Journal that, “President Barack Obama began his second term Monday by setting an agenda for the next four years built on bedrock Democratic social policies, in a provocative speech coming at a time of deep partisanship in the capital and lingering economic uncertainty across the country…[H]is priorities sent a message to Washington’s leaders that he is looking beyond the fiscal battles set to dominate the coming weeks, while signaling to the nation that he sees a large part of his legacy to be advocacy for underprivileged Americans.”

The Journal article noted that, “Mr. Obama took the ceremonial oath of office shortly before noon in front of hundreds of thousands of Americans stretching across the National Mall. In the speech that followed, he sought to reassure Democrats that he wouldn’t compromise on their core principles and to warn Republicans he planned to pursue policies that place the two parties squarely at odds.”

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Farm Bill; Budget; Biofuels; Immigration; and, Ag Economy

Farm Bill

Brian Beary reported on Friday at Europolitics Online that, “Farm subsidies may be less divisive an issue today for EU-US relations than they were in the past, but they still feature on the radar. While from the 1990s, the EU and US converged somewhat in how they chose to subsidise their farmers, the latest US Farm Bill proposal, which will set farm supports for 2013-2017, reverses that trend. Some EU officials are watching with concern as the US prepares to abandon the so-called ‘direct payment’ model of subsidy that the US itself pioneered in the 1990s and which today is a key part of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Direct payments have gained a bad reputation in the US, seen by some as giving public money to farmers for doing nothing, so Congress is set to jettison them, replacing them with more crop insurance subsidies. This could eventually set the EU and US on a collision course at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which sets ceilings on subsidies that it deems to be trade-distorting. The crop insurance subsidies that Congress looks set to embrace would be classified as trade-distorting under WTO rules. So, if the US increases their use, it could be at risk of overshooting its subsidy ceiling should food prices rise.”

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Farm Bill; Budget; Ag Economy; and, Immigration

Farm Bill Issues

DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton reported yesterday (link requires subscription) that, “House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas wants to make it clear that he expects USDA to follow through with enrollment and sign up for the direct and counter-cyclical payment programs and that checks should be issued in the fall.

“There is a lot of speculation over whether direct payments would actually be sent out in the fall.

Direct payments normally are sent out in the fall, which gives Congress the potential in budget talks to redirect USDA from issuing the payments, which cost about $5 billion a year.”

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Photo From Today’s Los Angeles Times- French Farmers and Regulations

This photo was included on page A-2 of today’s Los Angeles Times- the caption states that, “[French] Farmers use tractors to create a partial blockade of the city as part of a nationwide demonstration against new environmental regulations.”

LATimes13Jan17

Related Reuters article available here.

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Video Clip: Agriculture Sec. Vilsack Calls On Congress To Pass Farm Bill

Categories: Farm Bill

From USDA, Jan. 17- “Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual meeting that Congress must act soon and pass a Farm Bill.”

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Policy Issues; Ag Economy; and, Immigration

Policy Issues

Julie Buntjer reported earlier this week at the Worthington Daily Globe (Minn.) Online that, “On her second day of a two-day Homegrown Energy Tour of southwest and west central Minnesota, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar on Tuesday was both eager to talk about the failed attempts to pass new federal farm bill legislation and see what Minnesota-grown companies are doing to produce clean energy from wind, sunlight, corn and soybeans.”

The article noted that, “‘If we could somehow get our courage up to get a debt deal done … then I truly believe energy and immigration reform are probably the two issues where we could get some bipartisan consensus.’

“‘We need to push an energy vote for a longer term instead of year to year to year, which is so damaging not just for you guys, but for wind, solar — everyone involved in this,’ Klobuchar added.”

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Federal Reserve Beige Book: Observations on the Ag Economy

Today the Federal Reserve Board released its Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions.  Commonly referred to as the “Beige Book,” the report included the following observations with respect to the U.S. agricultural economy:

* Fifth District- Richmond-  “Agricultural conditions remained favorable…December was relatively mild across most of the District, with warmer than normal temperatures and significant precipitation. Small grain conditions improved with the added moisture, as did pastures and hayfields.”

* Sixth District- Atlanta- “Prices for corn, soybeans, beef, and poultry remained above year-ago levels, while the price for cotton was lower than this time last year. Dry conditions persisted in much of the District, although late December rains helped many areas in the region.”

* Seventh District- Chicago- “Although drought conditions eased, depleted soil moisture remained a concern in much of the District. The low levels of the Mississippi River hampered barge traffic moving both crops to market and inputs to farms. Crop operations tended to come out ahead for the year if they had adequate insurance coverage, and most crop farmers saw their net worth grow. Uncertainty regarding the tax treatment of capital expenditures led farmers to move up purchases of equipment and other capital improvements into 2012. Corn and soybean prices slid during the reporting period. Milk prices decreased, while cattle and hog prices increased. Of these agricultural products, only hog prices were below the levels of a year ago. Farmland values trended higher, with an extra spurt of farm sales at the end of 2012 in anticipation of tax code changes. Cash rents for cropland increased as well for the upcoming season.”

* Eighth District- St. Louis- “November year-to-date commercial red meat production across the District’s states was 4.3 percent higher in 2012 than the same period in 2011. By contrast, November year-to-date poultry production as measured by the number of young chickens slaughtered was down 2.2 percent relative to 2011. The District’s states ginned 6.4 percent less cotton from January 1 to December 15, 2012, compared with the same period in 2011.”

* Ninth District- Minneapolis- “Agriculture was steady at high levels. Crop prices came down somewhat recently but remain relatively high, a slight relief to livestock and dairy producers who have been hammered by high feed costs. The selloff of livestock herds continued. Sugarbeet producers in Minnesota and North Dakota saw a record crop in 2012, but prices were down. Prices received by farmers increased in December from a year earlier for corn, wheat, soybeans, chicken, dairy products and cattle. Prices for hogs, turkey, eggs and dry beans decreased. According to the Minneapolis Fed’s third-quarter (October) survey of agricultural credit conditions, farmland prices continued their rapid rate of increase.”

* Tenth District- Kansas City- “Drought continued to impact crop conditions and livestock profits improved with higher livestock prices and lower feed costs. District winter wheat conditions remained relatively poor due to persistent drought. The drought also caused water levels on the Mississippi River to fall further, hindering commodity transportation to and from agricultural regions. Still net farm incomes remained high due to historically high crop prices and crop insurance payments. Livestock profit margins also improved over the past six weeks due to a post-harvest decline in crop prices and rising livestock prices. District contacts noted a surge in land sales, sparked by concerns of tax policy changes in the new year.”

* Eleventh District- Dallas- “With little rainfall, most of the District remained in drought conditions since the last report. The drought is negatively impacting the winter wheat crop, and contacts are beginning to express concern for spring planting. Wheat harvest was mostly completed over the last six weeks, and production was up from 2011, mainly because the drought was less severe. Contacts noted that fiscal cliff concerns and the lack of a farm bill are creating a great deal of uncertainty.”

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