An update posted on Saturday at The Grand Forks Herald Online reported that, “U.S. Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., told a business roundtable meeting in Grand Forks Friday that he expects the farm bill to come to a vote in the current Congress.
“Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, ‘made a commitment to bring the farm bill up before the end of the year,’ Berg said. ‘I take him at his word.’
“The bill has a good chance of passing after the November election when political pressures holding up the bill are gone, he said.”
Mary Kay Thatcher, the Senior Director of Congressional Relations at the American Farm Bureau Federation, was a guest on today’s AgriTalkradio program with Mike Adams, where the conversation focused on the Farm Bill.
In particular, Ms. Thatcher addressed potential legislative action in the lame-duck session of Congress.
An audio replay of a portion of that discussion is available here:
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (pictured left), a member of the Ag Committee, was also on AgriTalk today.
The Kansas Republican spoke about the Farm Bill, as well as legislation he has introduced with Rep. Steve King (R, Iowa), that according to The Hill, “would repeal a U.S. Department of Agriculture rule that puts a cap on the number of calories in school lunches served to children.”
To listen to some of Rep. Huelskamp’s remarks on the Farm Bill, including comments on potential action in a lame-duck session, Farm Bill extension, and food stamp (SNAP program) spending, just click on the listen bar below:
While some of Rep. Huelskamp’s remarks and his proposed nutrition related legislation can be heard here:
Jennifer Steinhauer reported in today’s New York Times that, “Congressional agreement on a stalled farm bill seemed increasingly out of reach on Wednesday, as a few hundred farmers gathered near the Capitol to press for its passage. They were greeted by an unusually bipartisan group of lawmakers pushing for action in the House, where Republican leaders have declined to pursue legislation.
“‘Americans want us to work together to get it done for rural America,’ said Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan and chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, to the farmers’ cheers. [Note that a video replay of Chairwoman Stabenow’s remarks can be viewed here].
“Senator Jerry Moran, Republican of Kansas, also spoke, chiding members of his own party in the House for refusing to bring their own committee’s farm bill to the floor. ‘Don’t sit on the sidelines waiting for something to happen,’ he said.”
Going back to the joint effort from the House and Senate Agriculture Committees during the supercommittee process, Chairman Lucas discussed the development of the current Farm Bill including: Differences in the functionality of the Senate and House, some technical aspects of the SNAP (food stamps) enrollment process that differ among states, and the philosophical perspective of designing long-term U.S. farm policy for the potential bad times, as opposed to the good years. He also acknowledged that the Farm Bill is currently competing for time with other legislative priorities including budget issues, sequestration, and taxes.
Near the conclusion of his remarks, Chairman Lucas outlined the possible options to pass a Farm Bill; this portion of his remarks can be heard here (MP3- 4:00).
An update at AllAgNews.com noted that, “He [Chairman Lucas] explained why Direct Payments are being eliminated and what the options are for a farm bill this year. ‘I do know this. The best way to get President Obama to sign a farm bill is to get it on his desk before the election’ he said. ‘I don’t know when there will be a farm bill – I’m just not sure when and how yet. And I will tell you as Chairman it will be a farm bill that we can all participate in.’”
David Shepardson reported yesterday at The Detroit News Online that, “Sen. Debbie Stabenow says she is optimistic Congress will pass disaster assistance for farmers facing a record drought if the House doesn’t approve a farm bill.
“The Lansing Democrat and chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee said she’s been working during the congressional recess to try to get the House to act on farm reform legislation.”
Chris Clayton reported yesterday at the DTN Ag Policy Blog that, “As much as Sen. Charles Grassley would like a new farm bill, the member of the Senate Agriculture Committee acknowledged Tuesday that it’s far more likely a new bill isn’t forthcoming.
“‘I would imagine at this late stage and with farm legislation sunsetting Sept. 30 that is it most likely we will have a one-year extension of the farm bill,’ Grassley, an Iowa Republican, told reporters in a weekly call.
“Simply put, not much is going to get done in Congress before the election, other than likely extending current policies and delaying final passage of major bills such as the farm bill. Grassley predicted a one-year extension because House members will likely meet only eight days in September while senators are scheduled for 12 days.”
Financial Times writers Gregory Meyer and Javier Blas reported yesterday that, “Grain prices lurched higher as a widely publicised tour of drought-stressed US fields estimated corn and soyabean yields well below official forecasts…On Tuesday, September corn rose 1.4 per cent to $8.26½ per bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade, less than 20 cents below the contract’s all-time high.”
The FT writers added that, “Separately, Christopher Mahoney, head of agriculture at Glencore, said US corn production would probably be lowerthan the USDA’s current estimate of 273.8m tonnes (10.8bn bushels). Final output could drop to as low as 260m tonnes (10.23bn bushels), he warned.
“‘We have not seen [a drought-related problem] like this in the past,’ he told investors in a conference call, comparing the situation to ‘the Dust Bowl years of the mid-30s’.
“Mr Mahoney suggested corn consumers will need to ration more than currently envisaged by the USDA, particularly in the feed and export sectors.”
Meanwhile, Ian Berry and Own Fletcher reported in today’s Wall Street Journal that, “On Tuesday, corn reached a record closing high, and soybeans are only a few cents shy of all-time highs.”
Speaking recently to Brownfield Ag News, Purdue University Agricultural Economist Chris Hurt described some of the impacts higher corn prices will have on the livestock sector:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is set to update its production estimates again on September 12.
Mike Adams asked Rep. Peterson, “What do you think is going to happen when you get back in session in September? Are you going to get a bill done?”
The Minnesota Democrat noted that, “We’re trying. We’re trying. We’re using August here to see if we can narrow the differences and get language written and get language scored and so forth so that when we get back, if there’s motivation to move this thing, we’re in a position to do it. But it’s kind of going slow at this point, but we’re trying, we’re pushing.”
Rep. Peterson added that, “I think what people are hoping for is that people will get an earful when they’re home for August and come back on September 10th with a number of members putting pressure on their leadership to try to get this thing moved.”
Jason Clayworth reported yesterday at The Des Moines Register Online that, “Partisan cooperation and the dire need for congressional action on a federal farm bill were two of the key points U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley emphasized during his stop Monday at The Des Moines Register’s soapbox at the State Fair.”
The Register article noted that, “The [farm] bill passed the Senate in June but has stalled in the Republican-controlled House because of intraparty divisions over spending.
“Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, is seeking re-election in November and is being challenged by Republican Ben Lange of Independence. Braley promised to work with members of his own party as well as Republicans to pursue a legislative measure that would force the farm bill to the House floor for a vote.”
Rep. Braley’s complete presentation is available in the video below, and here is a clip of what he said about the Farm Bill process:
Rep. Braley indicated that, “Well, I’ve decided that I want to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, to bring that [farm] bill to the floor, and if the leadership in the House isn’t willing to do it, then we’re going to try to make them do it by doing something called a discharge petition.
“And I’ve got Republican and Democratic colleagues who are working with me, as soon as that bill gets reported to the full House- so that we can start collecting signatures and get people to put pressure on the leadership to bring that bill to the floor.”
Recall that a news release from Rep. Braley’s office earlier this month stated that, “Because House rules require a waiting period between the time a bill is referred to a committee and when members can sign a discharge petition on it, Braley’s Farm Bill petition won’t be officially opened for signatures until after members depart for an August recess.”
Meanwhile, in a tweet yesterday, House Ag Committee Member Steve King (R., Iowa) (pictured at right) stated that, “Bruce Brayley has no discharge petition to move a House Ag Committee farm bill, not one single signature, including his own. Political games.”
During the first part of a three day bus tour through Iowa, President Obama today called on Congress to pass the Farm Bill. In addition, President Obama spoke about GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan’s perspective on the Farm Bill process.
President Obama also briefly discussed executive branch action to help assist farmers and ranchers currently enduring the 2012 drought.
A portion of the President’s remarks from this morning can be heard here:
Roll Call writer Daniel Newhauser was a guest on this morning’s “Washington Journal” program on C-SPAN. Mr. Newhauser discussed the drought, the Farm Bill and the presidential campaign while talking phone calls from viewers.
A full replay of today’s “Washington Journal” program can be viewed here, while an audio clip where he specifically talks about the prospects of the Farm Bill passing before it expires in September can be heard here:
Meanwhile, Bernie Becker reported today at The Hill’s On the Money Blog that, “President Obama is poised to announce Monday that his administration will make up to $170 million in purchases to assist farmers struggling through one of the worst droughts in decades, according to an administration official.
“Obama is expected to announce the purchases of catfish, chicken, lamb and pork during a campaign trip through Iowa, a swing state that is also an agricultural center.”
And Politico writer Jennifer Epstein reported today that, “President Obama will use his first speech of his three-day bus tour to hit Paul Ryan as a leader of Republican opposition to the farm bill…”‘But right now, too many members of Congress are blocking that bill from becoming law. Now, I’m told Governor Romney’s new running mate might be around Iowa these next few days. And he’s one of those leaders of Congress standing in the way. So if you happen to see Congressman Ryan, tell him how important this farm bill is to Iowa and our rural communities. It’s time to put politics aside and pass it right away.’”
During his presentation today on C-SPAN, Daniel Newhauser spoke about Rep. Ryan’s views and ideas relating to the Farm Bill:
A news release Friday from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) stated that, “Affected by one of the worst droughts on record [related Des Moines Register graphic], U.S. corn growers are forecast to harvest 87.4 million acres in 2012, down 2 percent from June estimates, according to the Crop Production report released today by [NASS]…[D]espite planting the largest number of acres to corn in the past 75 years, growers are forecast to produce 10.8 billion bushels in 2012, down 13 percent from 2011 [related graph]. Based on conditions as of August 1, corn yields are expected to average 123.4 bushels per acre, down 23.8 bushels from last year.”
The NASS update added that, “This year’s soybean production is forecast at 2.69 billion bushels, down 12 percent from 2011 [related graph]. Soybean yield is expected to average 36.1 bushels per acre, down 5.4 bushels from the 2011 crop.
“In contrast to corn and soybeans, all wheat production remains largely unaffected by the drought and is forecast at 2.27 billion bushels, up 13 percent from 2011.”
A news release yesterday from the U.S. Department of Agriculture stated that, “As part of continuing steps by the Obama Administration to assist livestock producers in response to the historic drought, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today highlighted that USDA will utilize nearly $16 million in financial and technical assistance to immediately help crop and livestock producers in 19 states cope with the adverse impacts of the historic drought. In addition, USDA will initiate a transfer of $14 million in unobligated program funds into the Emergency Conservation Program. These funds can be used to assist in moving water to livestock in need, providing emergency forage for livestock, and rehabilitating lands severely impacted by the drought. Together these efforts should provide nearly $30 million to producers struggling with drought conditions.”
Yesterday’s release added that, “Also today, Vilsack signed disaster designations for an additional 44 counties in 12 states as primary natural disaster areas due to damage and losses caused by drought and excessive heat. Counties designated today are in the states of Arkansas, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Dakota. During the 2012 crop year, USDA has designated 1,628 unduplicated counties across 33 states as disaster areas—1,496 due to drought—making all qualified farm operators in the areas eligible for low-interest emergency loans.”
On Wednesday’s AgriTalk Radio program with Mike Adams, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack (pictured at right) explained recent administration policy updates that have been implemented to assist producers and rural communities that are currently impacted by the 2012 drought.
Also on Wednesday, during a campaign stop in Des Moines, Iowa, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney mentioned the drought at the opening of his remarks.
Jennifer Steinhauer reported in today’s New York Times that, “An effort to provide emergency aid for American ranchers and farmers reeling from a year of drought, frost and other calamities collapsed on Thursday as members of Congress departed for their five-week August recess, leaving behind a pile of unfinished legislation as they go home to campaign for re-election.
“After refusing to consider a sweeping five-year farm measure, House Republican leaders jammed through a short-term $383 million package of loans and grants for livestock producers and a limited number of farmers. The measure passed 223 to 197, a narrow margin for a bill that has an impact on so many states. But Democrats balked in protest over the way the farm legislation has been handled and some Republicans objected to the costs.
“Democratic leaders in the Senate, which had already passed a bipartisan five-year bill, refused to take up the House measure, faulting House Republican leaders for failing to consider the broader legislation in time.”
The Times noted that, “‘I’m not passing a bill that only covers some producers,’ said Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan, the chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
“Moments after the House passed its bill, Ms. Stabenow took to the Senate floor to say that lawmakers would instead work informally over the August recess to try to put together a new measure to present to Congress when it meets in September. The White House would have considered the House measure, but she resisted, Senate aides said.” [Note: Sen. Stabenow's full remarks from yesterday on the floor can be heard here (MP3- 18:02) , while a key portion of her remarks can be heard here (MP3- 2:48)].
“Ms. Stabenow, who worked for months to arm-twist resistant Senate colleagues on both side of the aisle to usher her bill through her chamber, said she would begin meeting with House agriculture leaders on Thursday night. ‘I am extremely hopeful that we can get together around what really needs to be done, which is a five-year farm bill,’ she said.”
Meredith Shiner reported today at Roll Call Online that, “Facing no clear consensus on a long-term farm bill, or even a one-year extension, House Republicans today pushed a stand-alone drought assistance measure, fearing Members otherwise would leave for August recess without any action to take home to struggling farmers and ranchers.
“Leadership had been scrambling to approve an unpopular one-year reauthorization of farm programs that Senate Democrats already said would be dead on arrival. And with an astounding 80 percent of the contiguous United States currently under drought conditions — according to the National Drought Mitigation Center — top GOP sources expressed serious concern about the optics of doing nothing to aid farmers at the height of summer.
“In a private, closed-door meeting in Speaker John Boehner’s office late this afternoon, leaders decided they could gin up enough votes to proceed with extending emergency benefits to farmers in duress. But they did not rule out having to twist GOP arms or appeal for Democrats’ support.”