December 5, 2019

Bloomberg Video: USDA Should Seek Flexibility on Budget, Lucas Says

From Bloomberg News, March 7- “U.S. Representative Frank Lucas, a Republican from Oklahoma and chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, talks about the U.S. Agriculture Department’s budget cuts, farm legislation and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. He speaks with Peter Cook on Bloomberg Television’s ‘Bottom Line.'”


Farm Bill; EPA; Ag Economy; and, Budget Developments

Farm Bill- Policy Issues

Heather Rutz reported earlier this week at The Lima News (Ohio) Online that, “House Speaker John Boehner had lots to say about many things Tuesday during a forum with members of the Ohio Farm Bureau but little to say about the bureau’s priority legislation: a new Farm Bill.

Boehner did pledge to get a new Farm Bill done and said he expected the Senate to do the same this year.

“‘We had a very tough time last year getting to a farm bill. We are going to do a farm bill this year. And I expect the Senate will do a farm bill as well,’ Boehner said.”


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– “The agricultural sector remained strong, while energy production declined slightly. Results of our most recent agricultural survey indicated that farmland values were above both the previous quarter and year-ago levels. In addition, most contacts noted that 2012 was one of the best years that farmers have ever had; they indicated that higher commodity prices had resulted in stronger cash positions. Several forestry contacts reported a pickup in lumber prices due to the uptick in the housing sector.”

* Sixth District- Atlanta– “Recent rains improved drought conditions in Alabama and Georgia, while Florida saw dry conditions expand over most of the state. Prices for corn, soybeans, beef, broilers, and eggs were higher than year-ago levels while the price for cotton was down. Contacts continued to report that groups with no agriculture experience were looking to buy farmland as they seek better investment returns.”

* Seventh District- Chicago– “Snow and rain continued to boost topsoil moisture levels, although depleted subsurface moisture remained a concern for farmers. Between engineering work on the Mississippi River, higher water levels, and low export demand for grain, congestion eased for barge activity. Corn and soybean stocks at grain elevators were even tighter than last year, as many farmers continued to store a share of their crops on hand in anticipation of higher profits closer to harvest this year. Input costs for planting have not changed substantially over the winter. Corn, wheat, milk, hog, and cattle prices dipped during the reporting period, while soybean prices moved a little higher. The prices for corn and soybeans in February become the benchmarks for potential compensation from crop revenue insurance plans; these prices were high enough to guarantee that insured crop operations will cover their production costs this year. Lower feed costs aided the cash flows of livestock operations. Lower corn prices also led to higher ethanol production.”

* Eighth District- St. Louis– “Annual crop production in the District’s states declined for most crops in 2012. The District’s states produced less corn, cotton, soybeans, and wheat in 2012 compared with 2011; in contrast, the District’s states produced more rice and sorghum. The effect of the decline in production on farm incomes was partially offset by higher prices in the District’s states for corn, rice, sorghum, and soybeans.”

* Ninth District- Minneapolis– “Agricultural producers in the District remained in mostly strong condition. Despite the drought, the USDA reported that 2012 corn production broke records in Minnesota and North Dakota. South Dakota corn and soybean production were down from the previous year, but came in higher than earlier estimates. The Minnesota sugar beet and North Dakota soybean crops were the highest on record. Prices received by farmers in January increased from a year earlier for wheat, corn, soybeans, cattle, milk, eggs and poultry; prices for hogs, turkey and dry beans were below their year-earlier levels.”

* Tenth District- Kansas City– “Agricultural growing conditions deteriorated further with persistent drought. Most of the winter wheat crop was in fair to poor condition with low soil moisture. While still higher than year-ago levels, crop prices edged down since the last survey period with softer export demand and slower ethanol production. Fed cattle prices held relatively steady, though feeder cattle prices rose as continued herd liquidations trimmed already low cow inventories. Robust demand from both farmers and nonfarm investors pushed farmland values to new highs, particularly for irrigated land due to water scarcity stemming from drought. District bankers reported collateral requirements held steady and ample funds were available for farm loans at historically low interest rates.”

* Eleventh District- Dallas– “The drought was the main concern over the reporting period. Feed costs remained high and cattle supplies were tight because of the drought, while beef prices and demand both declined seasonally. Cotton prices rallied since the last report, and cotton exports were up slightly. In contrast, corn and grain sorghum prices declined modestly over the reporting period. Grain exports were lower than expected.”

* Twelfth District- San Francisco– “Production activity and sales were strong for agricultural producers, and extraction activity of natural resources used for energy production expanded on net. Demand for most crop and livestock products grew further, and high grain prices contributed to elevated land prices. Agricultural producers faced higher petroleum-based fuel costs but lower natural gas costs.”


House Hearing; Farm Bill; and, the Budget

Categories: Budget /Farm Bill

Sequester, Policy Issues- House Agriculture Committee Hearing

DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton reported yesterday (link requires subscription) that, “A congressional hearing Tuesday promised to discuss the state of the rural economy, but the vast majority of the hearing was about the state of the sequester and why USDA isn’t doing more to minimize the impacts.

“Members of the House Agriculture Committee highlighted their problems with the way USDA would implement budget cuts. In particular, congressmen wanted assurances from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that sequester cuts would not disrupt the safety or markets of the meatpacking industry through furloughing meat inspectors.”


Farmers Respond to EWG Criticisms- NCIS Video

A recent video from National Crop Insurance Services (NCIS) indicated that, “During the drought of 2012, the Environmental Working Group accused farmers of ‘praying for drought.’ We asked farmers to respond to those claims.”


Rep. Austin Scott, Sec. Vilsack: Intense Discussion on USDA Budget Issues at Today’s Hearing

Categories: Budget /Farm Bill

Rep. Austin Scott (R., Ga.) and Sec. of Ag. Tom Vilsack had an intense and somewhat testy conversation regarding USDA budgetary issues at today’s House Ag. Comm. hearing.

The entire exchange can be viewed here:


Budget; Policy Issues; EPA; and, the Ag Economy

Budget Issues Persist

Kerry Young reported yesterday at Roll Call Online that, “House appropriators are proposing a final fiscal 2013 spending package that would effectively cap federal operating expenses at $982 billion, while giving military and veterans programs new flexibility to cushion the effects of the sequester’s automatic cuts.

“The House is expected to vote Thursday on the measure unveiled Monday, which combines Defense and Military Construction-VA bills with a stopgap continuing resolution covering most of the rest of the federal agencies.”

The article noted that, “Although Senate Democrats still may take a different approach with the CR by adding in separate measures beyond defense, neither side appears to be eager to stir a confrontation by doing much more about the sequester or potentially creating a new shutdown threat. The president and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., were among those who last week predicted new fiscal 2013 appropriations would be cleared before the current six-month fiscal 2013 continuing resolution (PL 112-175) expires March 27.”


Budget; Farm Bill; Livestock Production; and, Trade

Categories: Budget /Farm Bill /Trade

Budget Issues

Zachary A. Goldfarb reported in Saturday’s Washington Post that, “President Obama acknowledged Friday that deep federal budget cuts are here with no end in sight, an outcome that he warned would harm the economy but said he lacked the power to stop.

A final attempt to find common ground with congressional leaders at a White House meeting proved fruitless. The president continued to press for higher taxes as part of a deal, and Republicans continued to refuse — clearing the way for $85 billion in cuts this fiscal year and $1.2 trillion over the next decade.

“The reductions, which Obama formally ordered late Friday, are likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future. There had been speculation that they might be adjusted later this month, when lawmakers must agree on a new deal to fund the government or risk a shutdown. But Obama made clear Friday that he would seek to avoid a shutdown even if that means allowing the across-the-board cuts, known as the sequester, to continue.”


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

Budget Issues

Emily Holden reported yesterday at Roll Call Online that, “Senators rejected competing sequester replacement proposals Thursday, unable to agree on what legislation to take up to stop $85.3 billion in across-the-board spending cuts from going into effect Friday.

“The chamber turned back Democratic and Republican plans in two test votes designed to help the parties position themselves for negotiations after the budget cuts take hold tomorrow.”

Alexander Bolton reported yesterday at The Hill Online that, “A bill crafted by Senate Democrats won 51 votes, while a Republican alternative won only 38 votes. Three Democrats — Sens. Mary Landrieu (La.), Mark Pryor (Ark.) and Kay Hagan (N.C.), who are all up for reelection in 2014 — voted against their party’s bill, which fell 51-49.”

The Hill update noted that, “Congressional leaders say there is no Plan B and that the sequester, as the cuts are known in Washington, will be phased in over the next seven months. Hopes that a government-funding measure could become a vehicle to avert some of the cuts have also faded.”

“Following the votes, President Obama said Senate Republicans voted ‘to let the entire burden of deficit reduction fall squarely on the middle class,’” yesterday’s article said; while adding that, “Obama will meet with congressional leaders from both parties and chambers on Friday at the White House to discuss the next steps for addressing the sequester.

“Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said he will tell Obama in blunt terms that Republicans will not accept additional tax increases after voting for a $620 billion tax hike on New Year’s Day.”


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