January 27, 2020

Rep. Black, Chairman Lucas Discuss SNAP on House Floor Friday

Categories: Farm Bill

On Friday, Rep. Diane Black (R., Tenn.) offered an amendment during House consideration of the Supporting Knowledge & Investing in Lifelong Skills Act (SKILLS Act), H.R. 803, regarding USDA outreach programs and the SNAP program (food stamps).

In part, Rep. Black stated that, “My amendment would express the sentiment of the House that the funding for the United States Department of Agriculture, USDA, marketing and outreach program currently used to increase participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP, better known as ‘food stamps,’ would instead be used to fund job training programs contained in the SKILLS Act. These precious taxpayer dollars should be used to facilitate upward mobility and employment, not dependence.”

During a brief colloquy on the Amendment, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R., Okla.) indicated that many of the issues raised by Rep. Black were addressed in the 2012 Farm Bill passed last year by the Agriculture Committee, and noted that attention to the USDA-SNAP concerns would be considered again when the Committee takes up a Farm Bill this Congress.

Chairman Lucas noted that, “I appreciate the gentlelady from Tennessee’s attempt at reform here. In fact, the farm bill passed by the Agriculture Committee last Congress accomplished the goal of her amendment by preventing USDA from promoting the SNAP program…I pledge to work with the gentlelady to include language in the farm bill we intend to bring to the floor later this year to accomplish her goals.”

Rep. Black then withdrew her amendment.

A replay of the discussion is available here:


(Corrected)- Budget- Farm Bill; Trade; Regulations; and, Dep. Sec. Merrigan

Categories: Budget /Farm Bill /Trade

Budget: House Proposal, Senate Proposal- Farm Bill Implications

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R., Okla.) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D., Minn.) were guests on yesterday’s AgriTalk radio program with Mike Adams where both lawmakers discussed budget and policy issues.

Chairman Lucas indicated ( transcript) that, “Now, if you look at the ag side of the House [Budget Committee] proposal—and I’m more familiar with that than the Senate side—basically they propose somewhere in the range of about $30 billion in savings in what I would define as the non-nutrition programs. They actually have substantially higher savings proposed on the nutrition side.

“What I’m telling people is, because we need to write, as you well know, Mike, as many times as we’ve discussed it, a new comprehensive five-year farm bill, the House budget I view as guidance, and we’ll take what they propose very thoughtfully in place, but we’ll have to craft a comprehensive balanced bill that provides a safety net that will work that a majority of the membership in both bodies will pass.”

Chairman Lucas explained that, “There will be areas where we will achieve more savings than anyone can imagine possible, and there will be areas where it’s not possible to do some of the things discussed. But here, too, the Budget Committee gave us a number, not a long list of instructions. That’s the key, Mike. Let the Ag Committee, that understands agriculture and rural America, write the language. They gave us a number, and we’re going to do our best to meet it. But they didn’t give us instructions. My heartbeat was a little bit more consistent after I saw that.”


Grassley Gets Clarification on Farm Bill Spending Issues in Budget Committee Today

Categories: Farm Bill

An update from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) today indicated that,”During work today in the Senate Budget Committee on a budget resolution for fiscal 2014, [Sen. Grassley] affirmed that his initiative to reform farm program payments will be part of the Agriculture Committee’s effort to achieve $23 billion in agricultural savings sought by the Budget Committee and that, contrary to what the Budget Committee Chairwoman’s proposed budget says, all farm-bill spending will be on the table for spending reductions, including nutrition programs.”


Sen. Inhofe Highlights Ag Related Amendment in Senate Continuing Resolution Debate

Categories: Budget

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R., Okla.) discussed an agricultural related amendment to the Continuing Resolution on Wednesday.

Sen. Inhofe discussed the SPCC (Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure) amendment by explaining that, “This is a bill that for years and years has come up. It was originally designed for refineries that have very large amounts of storage, of oil, of propane, of all that type of material, and it was designed for them to have the necessary safeguards in place. Then, later on, there became a gray area. I ask the question because it has never been answered: Should they now be able to apply this to farms?

“Farms may have perhaps a little bit of propane over here and over here, someplace else, something else. It might add up to the 1,320 gallons at one time. If that is the case, then they would be under the same requirements as we currently have for refiners. I am talking about them having to do volumes and volumes of paperwork. They would have to purchase new double-lined containers and build berms around their storage facilities. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars, and this could be an average-sized farm.”

A replay of a portion of Senator Inhofe’s remarks on this issue can be seen here:


Sen. Tester Discusses Ag Provisions in Senate Continuing Resolution

Categories: Budget

On Wednesday, Sen. Jon Tester (D., Mont.) highlighted two agricultural related provisions contained in the Senate Continuing Resolution (CR) that is currently under debate this week.

A news release yesterday from Sen. Tester’s office indicated that, “Tester slammed the inclusion of two provisions that will hurt family farmers and ranchers while benefiting large meatpacking corporations and companies that develop genetically-modified crops. Tester said backroom deals replaced open government and vowed to strip the provisions from the bill.”

A replay of Senator Tester’s remarks on the Senate CR can be viewed here:


Bloomberg News: Is the Price of Candy About to Go Up?

Categories: Farm Bill

From Bloomberg News, March 13, “On today’s ‘Big Number,’ Betty Liu reports on the 400,000 tons of sugar the U.S. Department of Agriculture may buy to help sugar processors. She speaks on Bloomberg Television’s ‘In The Loop.'”

A related Wall Street Journal article is available here, “Big Sugar Is Set for a Sweet Bailout.”


Rep. McGovern’s 5th ‘End Hunger Now’ Speech- Wednesday

Categories: Farm Bill

House Agriculture Committee Member Jim McGovern (D., Mass.) spoke on the House floor on Wednesday about hunger issues in the United States.

In part, Rep. McGovern noted that, “The truth is that hunger is solvable – we have the means, the infrastructure and the food to end hunger. We just don’t have the political will to do so.

“This point is delivered in a clear, concise and emotional way in a documentary that is in theaters now. Called ‘A Place at the Table,’ this film, at its core, may be a simple story of hunger in America, it’s really an emotional tale about how people are struggling with hunger in America. About piecing just enough together to make ends meet – day-by-day, week-by-week and month-by-month.”

Rep. McGovern added that, “As I’ve said over and over again, hunger is a political condition, one that requires action by concerned Americans. Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen how so many Americans care about this problem and want to be part of the solution to End Hunger Now.

“And, I would, once again, urge the President to organize a White House Conference on Food and Nutrition to devise a plan to End Hunger Now.”

Rep. McGovern also spoke about U.S. hunger issues back on March 4th, February 26, February 14 and on February 5.


Budget- Policy Issues; Farm Bill; Biofuels; and, Trade

Budget: Sequestration, Senate Continuing Resolution

House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D., Minn.) was on KFGO radio (Fargo, N.D.) yesterday where he visited with Joel Heitkamp about a variety of budgetary and policy issues.

An audio replay of the conversation is available here, while a transcript of yesterday’s interview can be found here.

In part, Rep. Peterson discussed food safety issues, the sequester and the Continuing Resolution (CR) and pointed out that, “What needs to be done is the agencies and the military need to be given flexibility. One of the problems with the sequester is that it says that you have to take each line item and reduce it equally. And in agriculture, for example, that caused a problem because the meat inspectors, for example, it’s 87% salaries. They’d already made significant reductions in administrative costs through cuts that we’d made before and they didn’t have, really, any way to avoid it, so they were talking about furloughing meat inspectors, shutting down meat plants potentially, and so forth.

“If the Secretary had flexibility so he could reduce his entire department by a percent and could decide how to do it, then he would have been able to keep the meat inspectors on the line and make cuts other places. So I think at the end of the day if we can get this CR worked out, I think you’re going to see flexibility in there, and that’s probably the best you’re going to get, and we’ll see how the rest of this plays out.”


Video: Rep. Adrian Smith, Trade Issues- India

March 13, from Rep. Adrian Smith (R., Neb.)- “[Rep. Smith] participated in a House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade hearing on U.S. — India relations on March 13, 2013. During the hearing, Smith noted agricultural exporters in Nebraska’s Third District experience tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade in India. Smith asked Allen F. Johnson, who served as Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the United States Trade Representative from 2001 to 2005, to explain these barriers.”


Video: Sen. Coons Highlights Sequester, Meat Inspector Issues on Senate Floor Tuesday

On Tuesday, Sen. Chris Coons (D., Del.) addressed food safety issues associated with the sequester and meat inspectors on the Senate floor.

Specifically, Sen. Coons spoke about the pending continuing resolution (CR) in the Senate and stated that, “With the sequester having kicked in, many of us who are from states that have livestock or poultry processing are aware of the impending and significant negative impact on our home states and our economies, on people’s employment and on their opportunity to support their families.

“And so I wanted to briefly speak in support of what I know are Sen. [Barbara] Mikulski’s [D., Md.] tireless efforts to ensure that the 6,200 meat and poultry processing plants in this country do not get needlessly shut down.”


Budget- Policy Issues; Ag Economy; and, Immigration

Budget: House GOP Proposal- Farm Bill Issues

Reuters writer Charles Abbott reported yesterday that, “Republicans in the House of Representatives on Tuesday proposed $31 billion in farm subsidy cuts and the conversion of food stamps into a cash benefit program, as a way to help balance the federal budget in 10 years.

The proposal, signed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, left it to the Agriculture Committee to pick the specific cuts, but cited the $5 billion-a-year ‘direct payment’ subsidy, paid regardless of need, and the heavily subsidized federal crop insurance program as areas worthy of review.

“It also called for turning food stamps, used by millions of poor and elderly Americans to buy food, into a cash payment and to allow states to ‘tailor their programs to their recipients’ needs.’ Under the plan, food stamps would become a block grant.”


Video: Chairwoman Stabenow Addresses Budget, Nutrition, and Crop Insurance on Senate Floor Today

Categories: Budget /Farm Bill

Today, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D., Mich.) discussed the House GOP budget proposal that was released this morning.

Specifically, Chairwoman Stabenow highlighted issues associated with the SNAP program (food stamps) and crop insurance.

In part, Chairwoman Stabenow noted that, “And I can assure you that in the Farm Bill we will present again to colleagues as we did last year– and we’re so grateful for the bipartisan support we had– we will strongly support efforts around the crop insurance [program] as well as nutrition.”


Farm Bill- Budget Issues; and, the Ag Economy

Farm Bill- Budget- Policy Issues

Sen. Pat Roberts was a guest on yesterday’s AgriTalk radio program with Mike Adams where the conversation focused on recent legislation introduced by the Kansas Republican regarding the SNAP program (food stamps).

An audio replay of yesterday’s conversation can be heard here (MP3- 10:26); while a transcript is available here.

Sen. Roberts explained that, “Well, the title of the bill is To Improve Nutrition Program Integrity and Deficit Reduction, and we do it by taking a look at the eligibility for food stamps. There’s $11.5 billion in savings there. We also take a look at the fact that 17 states are really gaming the food stamp program with the Low Income Energy Assistance Program. The acronym for that back here in Washington is LIHEAP. What happens is that a state will accept one dollar of the LIHEAP program, and then that really makes somebody eligible for food stamps that otherwise wouldn’t be eligible. That saves $12 billion.

“We take a look at a lot of the things, Michael, that we had considered in the last farm bill. But in the last farm bill, the bright line for Democrats was to not touch food stamps other than four billion, and my bright line was to strengthen and improve crop insurance, so that was the deal that was made. But now the Congressional Budget Office says that that bill does not save 23 billion, it saves only 13 billion, because our baseline went down—I know this gets a little complicated—and there’s no savings to the nutrition program.

What we’re trying to do is make sure that nobody who receives benefits that truly need them, there are absolutely no cuts to those folks.”


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

Agricultural Economy

DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton reported on Friday (link requires subscription) that, “If normal weather returns, it will be a record corn crop this year with a $2 drop in prices, according to new baseline market projections released Friday by the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute [related press release, full report].

“The report by FAPRI, an economics group at the University of Missouri, parallels many of the production forecasts released last month at the USDA Outlook Forum, though FAPRI offers higher price projections for producers in some key crops such as corn and soybeans.

“In its summary, FAPRI states in 2014 and beyond average grain and oilseed prices will stay at levels seen this year, but above the average prices seen by producers before 2007.”


Video Report: Grassley not happy with USDA meat inspector furlough possibility

Categories: Budget

March 7- Video news report from KWWL, the NBC-affiliated television station in Waterloo, Iowa.


Budget; Farm Bill; Ag Economy; and, Regulations

Budget Developments

David Rogers reported yesterday at Politico that, “Senate Democrats mapped out plans Thursday to expand on a House-passed stopgap spending bill — adding full-year budgets for four more Cabinet departments as well as major science and space agencies.

“Justice, Homeland Security, Agriculture, Commerce, NASA and the National Science Foundation should benefit most. And Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski said she has begun drafting new legislative language to expand on the ability of other departments to move money between accounts to cope with cuts ordered last week.”


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