Chris Clayton reported yesterday at the DTN Ag Policy Blog that, “Farmers in parts of the northern and eastern Corn Belt would be collecting Price Loss Coverage payments on their corn crops this week IF the House version of the farm bill were in place.
“DTN’s market tracker shows corn for delivery selling as low as $3.17 a bushel in northeast Montana. Cash prices in several states show farmers would be receiving a target-price check for corn.”
Gregory Meyer reported on Friday at The Financial Times Online that, “The Obama administration has formally moved to put the brakes on US biofuels as it juggles conflicting pressures from two of the most powerful lobbies in Washington.
“Its proposal to trim a statutory ethanol blending mandate for the first time drew the threat of a lawsuit from the renewable fuels industry, and complaints from the oil lobby that the measure did not go far enough.”
Mr. Meyer noted that, “The rule unveiled for public comment on Friday by the Environmental Protection Agency [proposed rule, fact sheet, news release] called for 15.21bn gallons to be blended into the motor fuel supply in 2014, 16 per cent lower than the 18.15bn gallons under the renewable fuels law passed in 2007. It is a significant reversal for the agency, which just a year ago upheld the mandate in the face of protests from several state governors.”
The FT article indicated that, “‘As a result, we are now at the ‘E10 blend wall,’ the point at which the E10 fuel pool is saturated with ethanol,’ the EPA said.”
Erik Wasson and Russell Berman reported yesterday at The Hill’s On the Money Blog that, “Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday said he does not believe the deficit savings in a 2013 farm bill should be used to reach a year-end budget deal replacing the sequester.
“The farm bill being negotiated between the House and the Senate could contain as much as $51 billion in savings over 10 years. That could go a long way toward replacing the $91 billion in automatic agency budget cuts in fiscal 2014, prompting speculation that a budget deal could midwife the enactment of the farm bill.
“But Boehner said he has told Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), the lead budget negotiator for House Republicans, not to look to the farm bill for savings.”
The Hill update noted that, “‘I think it’s a separate issue, and I’ve made it very clear to Chairman Ryan,’ Boehner said at his weekly press conference.”
(Note that related audio clips from yesterday’s press conference with the Speaker can be heard here (MP3- 0:23) and here (MP3- 0:19).
“Eighty-four percent of the nation’s corn is in the bin, compared to 73% last week and a five-year average of 79%.”
The DTN article added that, “Soybean harvest advanced by five percentage points in the same week. Ninety-one percent of the nation’s crop has been cut, compared to 86% last week and a five-year average of 92%.”
Dar Danielson noted yesterday at RadioIowa Online that, “Iowa farmers are rushing to complete the corn and soybean harvest before winter sets in for good.”
Meanwhile, University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Gary Schnitkey indicated yesterday at the farmdoc daily blog (“Break-Even Soybean Prices: History and Projections”) that, “For farmland that is cash rented near average rent levels, break-even soybean prices have increased from near $5.00 per bushel in 2004 to around $10.70 per bushel in 2013 and 2014. Break-even prices near $10.70 will cause losses when soybean prices are below $10.70. Prices being below break-even prices are possible over the next several years.”
Tony C. Dreibus reported yesterday at The Wall Street Journal Online that, “Soybeans rose for the fifth straight session on signs of strong demand for U.S. inventories…[C]hicago Board of Trade soybean futures for November delivery gained 11 cents, or 0.8%, to $13.19 a bushel.”
Darren Goode reported yesterday at Politico that, “The Obama administration may be about to hand the oil industry a major victory by reducing the federal requirement for blending ethanol into fuel — a decision with big implications for farm-state politics, food prices and the nation’s energy markets.
“As early as Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce how many billions of gallons of ethanol it will require refiners to blend into gasoline and diesel fuel in 2014. If it sticks with a draft version that leaked in October, the agency will lower the amount to 2012 levels.”
During a speech on Friday in New Orleans, President Obama indicated that, “So helping American businesses grow; creating more jobs — these are not Democratic or Republican priorities. They are priorities that everybody, regardless of party, should be able to get behind. And that’s why, in addition to working with Congress to grow our exports, I’ve put forward additional ideas where I believe Democrats and Republicans can join together to make progress right now.
“Number one, Congress needs to pass a farm bill that helps rural communities grow and protects vulnerable Americans. For decades, Congress found a way to compromise and pass farm bills without fuss. For some reason, now Congress can’t even get that done. Now, this is not something that just benefits farmers. Ports like this one depend on all the products coming down the Mississippi. So let’s do the right thing, pass a farm bill. We can start selling more products. That’s more business for this port. And that means more jobs right here.”
And Michael D. Shear reported in Saturday’s New York Times that, “There are regular West Wing meetings on transportation, college affordability and a new farm bill.”
DTN Editor Emeritus Urban C. Lehner indicated at his blog on Wednesday that, “Charlie Stenholm’s passions during his 26 years as a Democratic Congressman from Texas were supporting agriculture and balancing the federal budget. That makes him a good man to listen to on the interaction between the two House-Senate conference committees meeting today, the one trying to reconcile different versions of the farm bill and the other trying to hash out a budget deal.
“Unfortunately for agriculture, what he has to say isn’t encouraging.”
Mr. Lehner noted that, “Serving as the moderator of a Farm Foundation panel discussion on the farm bill, Stenholm hammered home an inconvenient fact: It will be difficult for the farm-bill conferees to make meaningful progress until the budget conferees ‘give them a number.’ How much must agriculture contribute to cutting the budget?
“Without that number, any compromises the farm-bill conferees make on big-ticket items like food stamps will be wasted if the budget conferees end up demanding bigger cuts.
“At the very least this inconvenient fact pours cold water on talk of a farm-bill deal by Thanksgiving. The budget conferees’ deadline is December 13. Chances of getting an ag number before then are slim. As panelist Joe Outlaw of Texas A & M put it, ‘In political gamesmanship you don’t throw out a number’ sooner when you might be able to get a better number later.”
House Ag Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D., Minn.) was a guest yesterday on the News & Views program with Joel Heitkamp (790 AM Fargo-Moorhead, N.D.) where the discussion focused on the Farm Bill.
An unofficialFarmPolicy.com transcript of the News & Views discussion is available here.
Mr. Heitkamp asked Rep. Peterson, “Obvious first question, are we going to get a farm bill before the end of the year?”
Rep. Peterson indicated that, “Well, I hope so. I’ll probably have a better answer for you by later on this afternoon or maybe tomorrow. I thought we were going to get together this morning, but like everything that’s been happening with this bill, it got delayed, so now we’re not meeting ‘til 1:00 Washington time. And so I had a call from Stabenow for a while this morning, which, you know, was not encouraging. But we’ll have to see what happens when we get in the room at 1:00.”
David Rogers reported yesterday at Politico that, “Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow signaled Tuesday that face-to-face talks among the top four farm bill negotiators will resume this week, and she is upbeat enough to hope for a deal by Thanksgiving.
“‘I hope so. It’s doable,’ the Michigan Democrat said.
“‘I feel confident the four of us can come together,’ Stabenow said, speaking of herself, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.).”
Marisa Schultz reported yesterday at the Detroit News Online that, “After a 16-day government shutdown, Congress kicked off two high-stakes budget negotiations last week to hash out differences — and Michigan’s Sen. Debbie Stabenow is the only elected official in 535-seat Congress who sits at both negotiating tables.
“The budget and farm bill conference committees are two small, bipartisan, bicameral negotiating teams working under tight deadlines to prove there is still some compromise left in Washington. In the thick of the challenge is Stabenow, the Lansing Democrat.”
An update posted on Saturday at FOX 34 News (KJTV-TV- Lubbock, Tex.) Online reported that, “Representative Frank Lucas [R., Okla.], chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, toured the food safety lab at Texas Tech [on Saturday]. The ag committee is crafting a five-year farm bill. Lucas said a key component of that bill is agricultural research.”
The update indicated that, “‘It’s time to work out all the details,’ Lucas said. ‘I think we can do that, even with less money to spend. But, remember the fundamental principle that I offered all my colleagues back east, the farm bill is still about making sure we have enough to eat and enough fiber to wear. If it’s going to be a federal farm bill, it has to be something where it is the safety network for all commodity groups and all regions. That’s what we’re pushing hard on, and not everybody agrees on that, but I think we’re going to get there.’”
A related audio clip from the Fox 34 News report can be heard here (MP3- 1:00).
House Ag Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D., Minn.) was a guest on Friday’s AgriTalk radio program with Mike Adams, where the discussion focused on the Farm Bill.
An unofficialFarmPolicy.com transcript of the AgriTalk discussion is available here.
Billy House reported yesterday at National Journal Online that, “Halloween week kicks off in Congress with two issues long haunted by delays, as House and Senate conferees start separate negotiations Wednesday on a budget plan and a farm-bill reauthorization.
“Opening remarks from participants are expected to define most of the early action.”
Mr. House noted that, “One main difference between the Senate and House [Farm] bills is that the Senate bill retains the 1938 and 1949 farm laws as the basis for agricultural programs while the House bill would make the 2013 commodity title permanent law.
“Another big difference is that the Senate bill cuts only $4 billion over 10 years from food stamps—formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—while the House bill would cut $39 billion through a series of provisions that Democrats say will lead to increased hunger.
“In what may be a sign of the turbulence ahead, Speaker John Boehner appointed Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., to the conference committee even though he doesn’t serve on the Agriculture Committee. And it is Southerland who has made food stamps his main issue and wrote the amendment to the House bill to which the Democrats object the most.”
Jim McTague reported today at Barron’s Online that, “But if you are more into cage boxing, or if you happen to own shares of big-box retailers like Wal-Mart or a major supermarket chain, then another conference committee — the one charged with stitching together a bipartisan, five-year, $500 billion agricultural bill — definitely is the one for you.
“Here, the Republican Party’s brawling, penurious conservative wing is gearing up for another bone-crushing confrontation with the Democratic Party’s bleeding-heart liberals as well as with some of the more moderate members of its own party. This time, the battle is over the proper size of cuts to the food-stamp program, known nowadays as SNAP — for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Republicans want to isolate SNAP from the farm bill so it can’t be used as a hostage in negotiations over other controversial provisions like sugar supports. Then they want to cut the food-aid program by $39 billion over 10 years. Democrats are offering to cut roughly $4 billion over the same time frame, and they want the program left in the farm bill. Acrimony already is running high on both sides, so bridging that $35 billion gap will be difficult. This has supermarkets and grocery chains on pins and needles because their SNAP revenues are not minuscule. In a sense, SNAP has become as much of a crutch for food retailers during this period of sluggish growth as it is for the poor.”
David Rogers reported yesterday at Politico that, “When the farm bill conference meets Wednesday afternoon, it will be on a grand stage: the gilded Ways and Means Committee meeting room in Longworth with its sculpted eagles and history of past bargains.
“The challenge for negotiators is to think as big and bold.
“The Agriculture Committees argue—somewhat defensively— that they have already taken major steps. Both bills end the current system of direct cash payments to producers—costing about $4.5 billion annually. At the same time, organic and specialty crops gain modest ground. Much tighter payment limits are imposed on future subsidies. More of an effort is made to help only producers who have put seed in the ground, put themselves at risk and experienced a loss.”
Ed O’Keefe reported in today’s Washington Post that, “Next week, Congress is expected to revive an old but increasingly rare tradition that may determine how well and how quickly the institution is able to recover from all the negative fallout of the recent government shutdown.
“More than three dozen members of the House and Senate plan to sit down in a room together and begin sorting out big differences on competing versions of a large piece of legislation.
“Members of the House and Senate agriculture committees announced plans Wednesday to begin meeting to negotiate details of a new Farm Bill. The agriculture conference committee is a back-to-the-future moment for Congress, which in recent years has subverted the once long-standing practice of having conferees from the House and Senate meet to negotiate final versions of legislation passed in each chamber.”
The article noted that, “‘It’s long overdue,’ said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who chairs the Agriculture Committee.”
“Rep. Frank D. Lucas (R-Okla.), the House Agriculture Committee chairman, will chair the meetings, which will begin Wednesday afternoon with a format that permits all 41 members to make public statements. From there, the path forward is unclear,” the article said.
“‘I personally believe that we can come up with a consensus bill,’ Lucas said Wednesday.”