January 28, 2020

Climate Legislation; Trade; CFTC Issues; and Crop Insurance

Climate Legislation- Executive Branch Perspectives

An update posted yesterday afternoon at CQPolitics reported that, “Despite the obituaries being written for Senate passage of a cap-and-trade bill this year, President Obama is expected to reiterate his call for comprehensive clean energy and climate change legislation and to rebrand it as part of his job-creation agenda.

“White House officials and senators leading efforts to write a bipartisan climate bill signaled Wednesday that they will keep pushing hard for legislation that would curb emissions of greenhouse gases and boost development of alternative energy.”


Ag Economy – Farm Bill; Climate Change Issues; Animal Agriculture; and Political Notes

Ag Economy – Farm Bill

The “Washington Insider” section of DTN reported yesterday (link requires subscription) that, “There has been considerable discussion in the farm press recently about last year’s decline in major economic indicators. Last month, USDA’s most recent economic review documented what producers already know: the sector has been whipsawed by highly volatile domestic and international forces since mid-2008. These trends were initially favorable, the agency said, but then weaker domestic and international markets have undercut prices and returns for many, although not all commodities.

“The result, for 2009, is double-digit declines in crop and livestock cash receipts [related graph depicting value of production]. And, it has meant declines in average net cash income for farm businesses.”


Climate Change Issues; Crop Insurance; NASS Reports; Food Safety; and Trade

Climate Change Issues: International Perspectives

Bloomberg writer Robert Fenner reported yesterday that, “Australia’s government will stick by plans to reintroduce legislation in February to create a national carbon emissions trading system after the bill was rejected by the Senate earlier this month.

“‘The parliament meets at the beginning of February and we will be putting the legislation again to the parliament,’ Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner told reporters in Melbourne today. ‘That commitment stands.’

“The government plan, employing carbon trading similar to that used in Europe, would raise average annual household costs by A$624 ($556) and make services such as electricity more expensive, Tanner said today, citing Treasury data. Opposition leader Tony Abbott, who took the role one day before the Senate rejected the bill, argues the proposal will raise costs by A$1,100 without mitigating climate change.”


Climate Issues; Animal Agriculture; and SNAP (Food Stamps)

Climate Issues: EPA Endangerment Finding

Jim Snyder reported yesterday at The Hill Online that, “The Environmental Protection Agency’s finding that carbon dioxide represents a threat to human health starts a process that regulatory experts say will take years to resolve.

“Whether it becomes the ‘glorious mess’ that Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) predicted depends on factors like how much flexibility utilities and other emitters are given to meet the new standards and whether Congress eventually passes a cap-and-trade bill that would clear up some of the uncertainty surrounding the regulation.”


Biofuels; Climate Issues; Crop Insurance; Trade; and Senate Ag Committee Hearing


Reuters writers Tom Doggett and Ayesha Rascoe reported yesterday that, “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Tuesday it needs more time to decide whether to approve an industry request to boost the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline, but signaled that it believes newer American cars could safely handle the higher fuel mix.

“The EPA was supposed to decide by Dec. 1 on a petition from Growth Energy filed on behalf of 54 ethanol producers to let gasoline contain up to 15 percent ethanol.”


Climate Issues; Food Security; and Biofuels

Climate Issues

Juliet Eilperin and Michael D. Shear reported in yesterday’s Washington Post that, “The White House announced Wednesday that President Obama will attend U.N.-sponsored climate talks in Copenhagen next month and commit the United States to specific targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“The administration’s decision to identify a series of goals, including cutting emissions over the next decade ‘in the range of’ 17 percent below 2005 levels, is a calculated risk, given that Congress has never set mandatory limits on greenhouse gases.”


ERS 2009 Farm Sector Income Forecast; Climate Issues; and SNAP (Food Stamp) Issues

Editor’s Note: Happy Thanksgiving, FarmPolicy will return on Friday.

ERS 2009 Farm Sector Income Forecast

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS) updated its 2009 farm sector income forecast yesterday.

ERS stated that, “Net farm income is forecast to be $57 billion in 2009, down $30 billion (34.5 percent) from 2008. The 2009 forecast is $6.5 billion below the average of $63.6 billion in net farm income earned in the previous 10 years. Still, the $57 billion forecast for 2009 remains the eighth largest amount of income earned in U.S. farming. The top five earnings years have been tightly grouped between 2003 and 2008, attesting to the profitability of farming this decade” [see related graph-net farm income 1998-2009f].


Climate Legislation; Trade Issues; Animal Agriculture; Peanuts; and ACRE

Climate Legislation: Domestic Focus

ClimateWire writer Darren Samuelsohn reported yesterday at The New York Times Online that, “The Senate climate debate has largely been in standby mode since June, but Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) is ready to kick-start the process with the release next week of a draft bill.

“Sources off Capitol Hill say they expect Boxer to start legislative hearings during the week of Oct. 5, with a tentative markup penciled in for the week of Oct. 12.

“Of course, much depends on the fate of the Senate health care bill, just how quick U.S. EPA can turn around an economic analysis of Boxer’s legislation and whether the chairwoman wants to satisfy key moderates on her panel, which include Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Arlen Specter (D-Pa.).”


Climate Legislation; Food Safety; CFTC Issues; Farm Policy Perspective (Time Magazine); CRP; Sugar Issues; Nutrition Program; and Trade

Climate Legislation

Traci Watson reported earlier this week at the USA Today Online that, “New forests would spread across the American landscape, replacing both pasture and farm fields, under a congressional plan to confront climate change, an Environmental Protection Agency analysis shows.

About 18 million acres of new trees — roughly the size of West Virginia — would be planted by 2020, according to an EPA analysis of a climate bill passed by the House of Representatives in June.

That’s because the House bill gives financial incentives to farmers and ranchers to plant trees, which suck in large amounts of the key global-warming gas: carbon dioxide.”


Climate Legislation; Ag Economy; ACRE; Seed Co. Dispute; and Senate Hold Lifted on Nominee

Climate Legislation

Anna Palmer reported yesterday at Roll Call Online that, “With health care town halls continuing to dominate the August recess, energy and environmental interest groups are making an aggressive lobbying push to bring the climate change debate to the fore.

“The American Petroleum Institute, along with several other trade groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Association of Manufacturers, are launching a series of 19 ‘Energy Citizen’ rallies Tuesday.

“The first, taking place in Houston, will feature Houston Astros CEO Drayton McLane as the keynote speaker, according to API spokeswoman Cathy Landry.”


Chairman Peterson; Climate Legislation; Ag Economy (Sugar, Peanuts); USDA Information; and North Dakota

Chairman Peterson

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) was a guest on yesterday’s AgriTalk radio program with Mike Adams.

As part of yesterday’s discussion (MP3-about nine minutes), Chairman Peterson and Mike Adams discussed the Mexican tariff issue, the peer review of EPA’s analysis regarding biofuels and indirect land use, climate change, and livestock issues.


Agenda Filled with Farm Policy Issues; CFTC Issues; Climate Legislation; Mexican Ag Tariffs; Iowa Crop Damage; and Obesity

Agenda Filled with Farm Policy Issues

Janet Kubat Willette reported yesterday at AgriNews Online (Rochester, Minn) on comments made by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) at the FarmFest gathering that took place last week in Minnesota.

Rep. Collin Peterson, D-7th District, said this Congressional session has been like drinking out of a fire hydrant,” the article said, adding that, “Once the farm bill passed, the chairman of the House agriculture committee wanted to focus on the ag department.

The department review was pushed onto the back burner by pressing issues caused by the collapse of the financial markets. Peterson, an accountant by training, devoted his time to studying credit default swaps and derivatives. He and Rep. Barney Frank are in 95 percent agreement on a bill to regulate Wall Street, Peterson said.”


Climate Issues; Food Aid; SNAP; Food Safety; and Dairy Reaction

Climate Bill- Senate Developments

Jared Allen reported yesterday at The Hill Online that, “The chief architect of the climate change bill that barely squeaked by the House last month indicated Wednesday that he’s open to seeing the bill significantly altered by the Senate if that’s what it takes to ensure its passage.

“‘The irreducible core of the bill is that we get the reductions in carbon emissions,’ House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said Wednesday morning during a breakfast sponsored by the National Journal and a number of energy and healthcare industry groups.

“Beyond that, Waxman laid down no specific boundaries that, if crossed, would doom the bill.”


U.S.D.A. Proposal- More International Feed Back

I. U.S.D.A. Proposal- More International Feed Back
II. U.S.D.A. Continues to “Report Back” to Producers
III. Budget Issues

I. U.S.D.A. Proposal- More International Feed Back

Geoff Elliott, writing in today’s edition of The Australian, reported that, “Collin Peterson unwraps his burger. ‘Do you mind? It’s the only chance I’ve got to have lunch.’ It’s after 3pm and Peterson, 62, is in his office in the US Congress and while he’s clearly busy it doesn’t suit a man who prefers the pace of rural life in western Minnesota. His broad frame, weather-lined face and a voice slow and resonating belies that.”

Secretary Johanns discussing the Bush administration’s 2007 Farm Bill proposal yesterday at the Cattle Industry Annual Convention in Nashville (Photo by Chuck Zimmerman of

Mr. Elliott continued, noting that, “But the Democrats’ electoral success in November ensured the party took back both houses at the start of this year and Peterson’s position as one of his party’s leading policy advocates on agriculture has allowed him to take the reins of the House of Representatives agricultural committee as chairman.

“And for Australian farmers that’s bad news. This is not a bloke who speaks the language of trade liberalisation and farm subsidy cuts – he says the US is tired of leading the globalisation push and he wants to protect American farmers from unfair competition.”


Canadian Corn Case Grows

I. Canadian Corn Case Grows / Doha
II. New Farm Bill Proposal
III. Disaster Aid
IV. Ethanol, State of the Union

I. Canadian Corn Case Grows / Doha

The Associated Press reported yesterday (“Argentina, Brazil join WTO complaint against U.S. corn subsidies”) that, “South American agricultural leaders Argentina and Brazil have joined Canada in a complaint against the United States over what they claim are illegal government handouts to American corn growers, trade officials said Monday.

“The request for consultations, filed by the two countries and Guatemala last week at the Geneva-based World Trade Organization, threatens a major commercial dispute in the Western Hemisphere at a time when global free trade talks remain stalled over agricultural tariffs and subsidies and the U.S. begins debating a new multibillion-dollar farm bill.

“Under WTO rules, a three-month consultation period is required before a country can ask the trade body to launch a formal investigation. A WTO case can result in punitive sanctions being authorized, but panels take many months, and sometimes years, to reach a decision.”

The A.P. article reminded readers that, “The WTO, in a case brought by Brazil, already has ruled that some cotton subsidies are illegal and the administration of President Bush has been coming under pressure to reform a number of its farm support programs.

“‘Many of the issues in Canada’s complaint we have also complained about concerning U.S. cotton programs,’ said [Clodoaldo Hugueney, Brazilian ambassador to the WTO] in a telephone interview from Geneva.

“Canada’s complaint over U.S. corn support also challenged whether the billions of dollars in overall farm subsidies paid out by the U.S. government comply with international commerce rules.”


Washington Post: "Harvesting Cash" Series Continues

I. Post: Harvesting Cash
II. President Bush on Ethanol
III. Appropriations Issue- Conservation
IV. Brazil
V. Australia

I. Post: Harvesting Cash

Gilbert M. Gaul, Sarah Cohen and Dan Morgan continued their Washington Post series, “Harvesting Cash,” with an update published in today’s paper entitled, “Federal Subsidies Turn Farms Into Big Business.”

“The cornerstone of the multibillion-dollar system of federal farm subsidies is an iconic image of the struggling family farmer: small, powerless against Mother Nature, tied to the land by blood,” the authors noted.

“Without generous government help, farm-state politicians say, thousands of these hardworking families would fail, threatening the nation’s abundant food supply.