Gwin Faulconer-Lippert, of News Radio 1000KTOK radio (Okla. City), spoke Sunday with House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R., Okla.) about a variety of current policy variables regarding the Farm Bill.
An audio replay of the Chairman’s remarks from Sunday can be found here, while an unofficialFarmPolicy.comtranscript of the conversation with Gwin Faulconer-Lippert and Chairman Lucas is available here.
Pat Curtis reported yesterday at Radio Iowa Online that, “A Minnesota Congressman who is playing a key role in enacting a new Farm Bill was in Iowa City over the weekend for a forum on the issue. Collin Peterson met with farmers and advocates for providing food assistance to those who can’t afford it. Peterson, the House Agriculture Committee’s top-ranking Democrat, says farmers would suffer greatly if they were not provided government help in paying crop insurance premiums.
“‘In my opinion, if you don’t have some sort of crop insurance product available to ordinary people and a reasonable target price floor, what you’re going to end up with is rich people with deep pockets farming and nobody else. That’s what you’re going to end up with and that is bad for the country and I’m not going to be part of it,’ Peterson said.”
Erik Wasson reported on Friday at The Hill’s On the Money Blog that, “The House will not produce legislation reforming food stamps before the August recess in a setback for those seeking a quick revival of the stalled 2013 farm bill.
“A House GOP leadership aide said Friday that conversations over the food stamp program would continue over the recess that begins at the end of next week.
“An earlier attempt to draft a stand-alone food stamp bill before that time have been shelved, the aide said.”
The Hill update added that, “House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) has been polling members on what the bill should look like and has participated in a small working group convened by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). The group met again this week without resolution.”
David Rogers reported yesterday at Politico that, “The chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Marcia Fudge, signaled Thursday that she is prepared to make new concessions on food stamps to advance Farm Bill talks with the Senate.
“But having met face to face with Majority Leader Eric Cantor this week, Fudge, a Democrat from Ohio, said she came away more skeptical that the Virginia Republican is willing to move from his own positions to get a deal.
‘”He doesn’t want a bill,’ Fudge told POLITICO of their Tuesday meeting. ‘Just in terms of our discussion, it was clear to me, it was my sense that he really does not want a bill.’”
Colleen McCain Nelson reported in today’s Wall Street Journal that, “President Barack Obama, facing a likely escalation of sniping on spending and debt this fall, delivered a long and impassioned plea Wednesday for a change in the Washington economic debate, away from arguments over budgets to a focus on the long-term condition of the middle class and American competitiveness.
“In the first of a series of about a half-dozen speeches that will lay out his blueprint for sustained economic growth, Mr. Obama offered mostly familiar policy prescriptions.”
The Journal article noted that, “Sprinkled throughout the speech were familiar proposals, including calls for investments in infrastructure; government job training programs that are more directly connected to business needs; expanded pre-kindergarten programs; federal policies designed to reduce college costs; and an increased minimum wage.
“He also called for an end to the across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester, which he described as a meat cleaver that has cost jobs and harmed growth. And he made a new pitch for an overhaul of the immigration system, saying more legal immigrants could pay the taxes to help finance imperiled retirement programs.”
Ms. Nelson added that, “In a new twist, the president drew a clearer distinction between House and Senate Republicans, praising those in the Senate who are willing to work toward compromise and those who helped pass the immigration bill.
“‘But a faction of Republicans in the House won’t even give that bill a vote, and gutted a farm bill that America’s farmers and most vulnerable children depend on,’ Mr. Obama said.”
In a news briefing yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) commented on the Farm Bill process and the House of Representatives by noting that: “The farm bill, just the work we did here, do it in the House, it would pass overwhelmingly. But they’ve got this weird deal they’re doing over there that no one really understands.”
The “Washington Insider” section of DTN reported yesterday (link requires subscription) that, “Democratic members of Congress continue their drumbeat for an official conference, but GOP House leadership and House Ag Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., say an attempt is being made to see if a separate nutrition funding and reform bill can be developed.
“Some House Democratic members want a hearing on the topic, but Lucas said extensive farm bill-related discussions on the matter have already been held. What few observers admit at this stage is that any solo farm bill conference report would not likely make it through both chambers. But an agreement at the leadership level beyond the Ag panels to attach any agreement to another conference report, such as an increase in the debt limit, could stand a chance for the farm bill to be completed.
“Absent that, another extension of current law, perhaps a two-year extension, is the likely outcome. One suggestion for food stamp funding cuts has been to backload any cuts, and then do a study to determine if those cuts and reform measure would significantly and negatively impact the program.”
Rep. Hoyer indicated: “I note that there was not on the notice for next week—the Senate has now voted to go to conference on the farm bill. Clearly, that is a matter that I think both sides, or certainly our side, I think your side as well, feels is a priority item. Does the gentleman have any plans to move to go to conference now that the Senate has asked for a conference next week on the farm bill?”
Rep. Cantor noted in that, “I’d respond to the gentleman by saying that we are committed to acting with urgency to bring to the floor a bill under the nutrition title of what was formerly the farm bill, which that title married up with the agricultural provisions.
“It is our hope that we can get a nutrition bill to the floor, because we believe strongly that the programs under those titles, providing a safety net to the country’s most vulnerable, are something important that we maintain and we implement the kind of reforms to those programs that have long been called for by the GAO and others so that we can make sure of the efficient flow of dollars to those beneficiaries who most need it.”
(Note: An item in yesterday’s FarmPolicy report regarding the agricultural economy and population has been corrected.)
David Rogers reported yesterday at Politico that, “Farm bill talks advanced Thursday as the top leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees met to begin their discussions and the Senate later took the first steps to request a formal conference with the House.
“‘We are very serious about working together and getting this done,’ Senate Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) told POLITICO. ‘And I am very confident we will.’
“That said, the Michigan Democrat had to endure a long afternoon of uncertainty before finally getting her consent request to go to conference through the Senate Thursday evening.”
Congressman Adrian Smith (R-NE) asks U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to explain how the Administration is working to ensure science-based food safety standards and strong enforcement mechanisms in upcoming trade negotiations during a Committee on Ways and Means hearing on July 18, 2013.
The AgriTalk interview was played in two segments. An audio replay of the longer portion of yesterday’s discussion can be heard here (MP3), and an unofficial FarmPolicy.comtranscript of this part of the interview can also be viewed here.
Chairman Lucas indicated that, “Mike, my understanding is that the staff of the U.S. House—I believe that would be the clerk’s office—have transmitted to the United States Senate our copy of H.R. 2642 that we passed last week in the United States House. That means we’re now at a point in time where the Senate has to take the next step. They passed their bill substantially earlier.
“But unfortunately, because of a constitutional issue dealing with revenue, their bill cannot be heard on the floor of the House in its present form. It’s been blue slipped by the Ways and Means Committee. So now the Senate either has to pass our bill, which of course I think would be a great idea, or reject our bill, and I suppose insert their language into our bill and send it back, which would lead to a conference.
“But at this moment the United States Senate has the House passed version of what I call the farm bill farm bill, and we’re waiting on them to take action.”
* Fifth District- Richmond– “Recent reports on agricultural conditions were mixed. While a South Carolina farm loan banker reported that the wet weather earlier in the year ‘started the crop season off in a positive light,’ other reports from South Carolina and Virginia indicated that the rains delayed planting and even resulted in one farmer planting soybeans and cotton instead of corn. In addition, a South Carolina contact noted that heavy rains had damaged the regional wheat crop to the extent that sprouts were unacceptable for export. A North Carolina source also noted a recent shift to cotton over corn, due to declining corn prices. Nevertheless, another source remarked that agricultural lending was ‘booming’ and demand for wood products continued to rise.
* Sixth District- Atlanta– “Since our last report, soil throughout much of the District improved to more favorable, drier conditions. Pasture conditions improved as well. Monthly prices paid to farmers were up for cotton, soybeans, corn for grain, rice, citrus, hogs, and broilers. During this same period, beef prices were down slightly, but still moderately higher than this time last year.”
* Seventh District- Chicago– “Crop conditions improved over the course of the reporting period, with the crop ending the period in better shape than a year ago. District farmers managed to get their crops in the ground despite additional planting delays caused by the unseasonably wet weather. Only a small percentage of acres will not grow a crop, where water pooled in low-lying areas and replanting was not possible. Fruit crops could produce record yields this year, in sharp contrast with the large losses seen a year ago. With stocks of corn and soybeans expected to remain at very low levels until the fall harvest, corn and soybean prices moved higher. The increase in feed costs negatively affected livestock operations, and contacts noted that it would lead to careful management of feed purchases until anticipated declines in crop prices are likely to materialize following a potentially record fall harvest. The first cutting of hay was mostly complete and was much better than last year. Supported by rejuvenated pastures, milk output also increased. Milk prices were roughly unchanged during the reporting period, while hog prices surged, and cattle prices were lower.”
* Eighth District – St. Louis– “At the end of June, the condition of over 90 percent of the cotton, corn, soybeans, sorghum, and rice crops was rated as fair or better in all the District states. Furthermore, at least 70 percent of total pastureland across the District states was rated in good or excellent condition. The winter wheat harvest was behind its 5-year average and behind the progress made by the same time last year.”
* Ninth District- Minneapolis– “The agricultural sector weakened since the last report. District farmers made progress after a late spring, but remain behind the five-year average for corn and soybean plantings due to recent heavy rains. In some areas, farmers are expected to switch from corn to soybeans due to the weather. Prices increased from a year earlier for wheat, corn, soybeans, chickens, milk, hogs, cattle and eggs; prices fell for turkeys and dry beans. The late plantings, along with concerns about warmer and drier weather later this summer, caused the USDA to increase its corn price forecast slightly, though prices are still expected to decrease from current levels.”
* Tenth District- Kansas City– “Agricultural production expectations improved somewhat with recent rains, but varied regionally. Summer storms eased dry conditions in eastern parts of the District, though drought persisted in western regions. The winter wheat harvest was underway or complete in Oklahoma and Kansas with highly variable yields depending on the extent of drought and freeze damage. Despite expectations of a poor wheat harvest in some areas, wheat prices fell since the last survey period. The corn and soybean crops, however, were rated in mostly good or better condition with the improved soil moisture. Although corn and soybean prices remained historically high, improved growing conditions led to a drop in expected harvest prices for both crops. Feedlot operators struggled with high input costs and falling cattle prices, but losses narrowed for hog producers after a rebound in hog prices. Cropland values moved higher but were expected to hold steady during the growing season.”
* Eleventh District- Dallas– “Much of the Eleventh District remained in severe drought, with conditions little changed from the last reporting period. Row crop farmers completed planting, and crop conditions were mostly fair to good, according to respondents. The wheat harvest continued, but production was sharply reduced as a very large share of the acres planted was abandoned because of drought and freeze damage. Livestock feedlots and meat processors continued to suffer greatly from high feed costs and a shrinking cattle herd.”
* Twelfth District- San Francisco– “Agricultural sales and production activity expanded. Demand was strong for most crop and livestock products. However, some contacts expressed concern about the lack of availability of manual laborers. Insufficient water also was a concern in parts of the District, with this year’s rain and snow pack levels running well below seasonal norms.”