November 13, 2019

Farm Bill; Food Safety; Ag Economy; Regulations; Trade; Biofuels; and Tax Issues

Farm Bill Issues

Earlier this week, Agri-Pulse Senior Editor Stewart Doan interviewed posted an interview with House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) in the latest edition of the Agri-Pulse Open Mic program.

The full interview, which lasts about 15 minutes, is available here.  A summary of the interview indicated that, “The always outspoken Peterson, who chaired the House Ag panel during the 2008 Farm Bill debate, suggests that current Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., has been dealt an almost impossible hand by budget-cutters in his own party and at the White House. Whats more, Peterson fears that ideology will trump policy in the farm bill reauthorization, leaving farmers with an inadequate income safety net. He comments on his tiff with Lucas over Wall Street reform legislation and also discusses the near-term outlook for U.S. ag exports to Cuba.”

A portion of the Open Mic interview, in which Rep. Peterson discusses the budget pressures on farm programs and the Farm Bill, is available here (MP3- 2:25). During this clip, Rep. Peterson also notes that the Senate Agriculture Committee will likely go before the House in drafting an initial draft of the next Farm Bill.

In a second audio clip (MP3- 2:23), Mr. Doan and Rep. Peterson highlight the current debate over potential federal farm spending cuts and negotiations regarding increasing the debt ceiling.  Rep. Peterson draws an analogy to the current political and economic environment, a desire for spending cuts and high commodity prices, to the 1995-96 period when the Freedom to Farm legislation was drafted.  He cautions against following similar policy choices today.


Farm Bill; Agricultural Economy; and Trade

Farm Bill Issues: House Appropriations

The AP reported yesterday that, “A House committee voted Tuesday to cut farm subsidies to pay for deficit reduction and other budget priorities, chipping away at the billions of dollars a year that are directed to farmers.

“The votes in the House Appropriations Committee may be a preview of what is expected to be a tough year for agriculture programs. Congressional lawmakers have increasingly looked to billions of dollars in farm subsidies as a source of money for other priorities as crop prices have reached record levels.”


Biofuels; Ag Economy; Trade; Food Safety; Budget; and the Farm Bill


National Public Radio (NPR) reporter Don Gonyea reported on Sunday’s Weekend Edition program that, “There has long been a truism for presidential hopefuls in Iowa. If you want to do well in the first of the nation caucuses, then you’d better support subsidies for ethanol. Yet this year, with overall federal spending and deficits becoming such a major issue, the political rules regarding ethanol may be changing.

“Go back and listen to Iowa stump speeches from candidates past — Democrat and Republican alike, front runners and long shots — and you’ll hear lines that have been music to the ears of the states’ corn growers.

“‘I support ethanol and I support ethanol strongly,’ George W. Bush said in 1999. ‘And I’d support ethanol whether I was here in Iowa or not.’”


Farm Bill; Ag Economy; Trade; and Regulations

Farm Bill Issues

On Monday, the House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee released its draft of the fiscal year 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill; and yesterday, the Appropriations Subcommittee held a markup of the bill.

In a statement delivered yesterday, Subcommittee Chairman Jack Kingston (R- GA) indicated that, “This subcommittee has begun making some of the tough choices necessary to right the ship. We have taken spending to below pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels while ensuring USDA, FDA, CFTC, and other agencies are provided the necessary resources to fulfill their duties.”

Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), the full Appropriations Committee Chairman, noted yesterday that, “The bill we have before us works to put the agencies funded by this bill on a sustainable budget path, while continuing to fund assistance to farmers, rural communities and low-income families. Where necessary, we have cut funding for duplicative programs and limited funding for programs that have been less than transparent with taxpayer money.”


Farm Bill; Ag Economy; Trade; GIPSA; Animal Agriculture; and Biofuels

Farm Bill (House Appropriations)

A news release yesterday from the House Appropriations Committee stated that, “The House Appropriations Committee today released the subcommittee draft of the fiscal year 2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill, which will be marked up in the Agriculture Subcommittee tomorrow [Tuesday]. The legislation continues the trend of major spending reductions sought by the Republican majority, totaling $17.2 billion in discretionary funding – a cut of over $2.6 billion from last year’s level or over $5 billion below the President’s budget request for these programs.

“‘While making smart yet significant cuts to save taxpayer dollars, the Agriculture Appropriations bill for next year also funds several important and necessary government programs, including agriculture research, rural development, and safety-net food and nutrition programs,’ House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said. ‘As is the goal of all our Appropriations bills this year, this legislation reflects hard decisions to cut lower priority programs, reduce spending in programs that can be scaled back, and target funds where they are needed most so that our nation continues on the path to fiscal recovery.’”


Farm Bill; Agricultural Economy; and Trade Issues

Farm Bill Issues: Budget Focus

Bloomberg writer Heidi Przybyla reported yesterday that, “A bipartisan group of six Senate and House lawmakers, led by Vice President Joe Biden, has found common ground on at least $200 billion in cuts by focusing on mandatory federal spending, such as agriculture subsidies, outside of politically sensitive entitlement programs like Medicare, according to people close to the negotiations.

“The negotiators are moving toward a package of immediate spending cuts and deficit-cutting benchmarks — intended to reassure U.S. investors and the bond market — as hopes faded this week for a grand bargain sought by a separate group of six senators to reduce the nation’s debt through revisions in entitlement programs and the tax code.”


Farm Bill; Budget; Ag Economy; Trade; and Regulations

Farm Bill Issues

The Washington Insider section of DTN reported yesterday (link requires subscription) that, “When Congress drafted the 2008 farm bill, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., played a key role in assuring that fruit and vegetable growers were able to receive some federal assistance, something that had taken years to come to fruition. ‘It took multiple farm bills to get there,’ she recently reminded the press.

“At the time, Stabenow was a junior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Today, she is chairwoman of that committee, but even with her new authority and responsibilities, Stabenow’s ability to help so-called specialty crop producers is likely to be more limited than before.

“Fruit and vegetable producers said in 2008 that they were less interested in direct payments or price supports than in assistance aimed to opening new markets and gaining new customers for their produce. Stabenow says that in the 2012 farm bill she favors expanding a program of block grants to states to grow the market-building initiative, but notes that as with everything else on Capitol Hill, it will come down to the budget with which she will have to work.”


Farm Bill; Ag Economy; Trade; Biofuels, and Budget

Farm Bill Issues

Jennifer Steinhauer reported in Saturday’s New York Times that, “When it comes to spending cuts, members of Congress like to say that ‘everything is on the table.’ Except, generally, food. But now federal farm subsidies, long decried by policy makers as wasteful and antiquated but protected by powerful political interests, appear to be in serious danger.

“This week, Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin and the chairman of the House Budget Committee, told reporters, ‘We shouldn’t be giving corporate farms, these large agribusiness companies, subsidies. I strongly believe that.’

“His budget proposal would take $30 billion out of the farm program over the next decade.”


Farm Bill; Ag Economy; Trade; and Budget Issues

Farm Bill Issues

Robert Pear reported in Saturday’s New York Times that, “To Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, it seemed like a sensible way to attack a major public health problem. To the soft drink industry, giant food companies, makers of snacks and candy, supermarkets, and antihunger groups, it seemed like an attack at the grocery checkout counter.

The mayor wants to reduce obesity and diabetes by banning the use of food stamps to buy ‘sugar-sweetened beverages’ in New York City.”


Farm Bill; Ag Economy; Regulations; Lawsuits; Trade; and Budget Issues

Farm Bill Issues

Rob Reuteman reported yesterday at CNBC Online that, “Farm subsidies, including billions in direct payments that go to many farmers annually regardless of need, are on everyone’s federal budget chopping block this year.

“Prices for most food commodities are at record highs, up 24 percent from February 2010 for all farm products tracked by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

“And the healthy ag economy hasn’t escaped the attention of Congressional budget cutters looking at a projected 2012 deficit of $1.5 trillion.”


Budget; Farm Bill; Trade; Regulations; and the Agricultural Economy

Budget: S&P on U.S. Treasury Securities- A Potential Catalyst for Budget Talks

Damian Paletta and E.S. Browning reported in today’s Wall Street Journal that, “A blunt warning Monday from a credit-rating firm about the U.S. government’s mounting debt pushed stock markets lower and intensified political divisions in Washington about how best to tackle growing deficits.

Both the Obama administration and House Republicans scrambled to gain leverage from Standard & Poor’s changing its outlook on U.S. Treasury securities to ‘negative’ from ‘stable.’

“S&P didn’t lower its top-notch AAA-bond rating for U.S. government Treasury securities, and their prices initially fell but later rebounded amid optimism that the report could serve as a catalyst to force both sides in Washington to compromise.”


Budget (Farm Bill); Ag Economy; Regulations; Trade; Biofuels; and Immigration

Budget: Political Background

Paul Kane reported in today’s Washington Post that, “Congressional leaders in both parties agree they have to stop putting off the inevitable and reach a deal to fund the federal government through September, the end of the fiscal year.

“Washington is limping along on stopgap funds that expire April 8, the sixth short-term extension in the past 5.5 months. Neither side wants to pass another one. The extensions are a hassle to negotiate, with the two parties bickering over spending cuts for little benefit.

“But there is one big obstacle in the way of a long-term deal, one that goes beyond the arguments over dollars and cents. The budget proposal the House Republican majority approved this year included a number of unrelated amendments — riders, in Congress-speak — that would impose restrictions on federal agencies.”


Farm Bill; Climate Issues; Ag Economy (WASDE); and Trade

Farm Bill: Background- Budget and Spending Issues

David Rogers reported yesterday at Politico that, “Faced with a revolt on the right, House Republicans scrambled Wednesday to adjust their budget strategy and come up with tens of billions of dollars in additional savings — including a possible across-the-board cut — to appease tea party supporters.

“The day began with the once-proud House Appropriations Committee previewing what it saw as an unprecedented package of more than $40 billion in reductions from current domestic and foreign aid funding. But even as the numbers were released, conservatives at a morning caucus demanded twice the reductions. And by late in the day, the committee’s cardinals were closeted away in the Capitol, fending off talk of across-the-board cuts but also admitting they will most likely need days more to come up with an alternative.”


Farm Bill; Biotech; Ag Economy; and Trade

Farm Bill: Background- Budget and Spending Issues

David Rogers reported on Friday at Politico that, “House Republicans sketched out tens of billions in appropriations cuts Thursday, even as White House Budget Director Jacob Lew met with Senate Democrats amid increased pressure to resurrect major elements of last year’s presidential debt commission report.

“The GOP’s ambitious goal in the House is to roll back foreign aid and domestic spending to 2008 levels, but the leadership now admits that its net savings amount to just $32 billion from 2010 levels once new defense spending is added to the equation.”


Farm Bill; Political Notes; Ag Economy; Trade; Biofuels; and Climate Issues

Farm Bill: Crop Insurance

AP writer Steve Karnowski reported yesterday that, “The federal government proposed Thursday to reward farmers who use crop insurance and demonstrate good management practices that limit their losses.

“The awards under the Good Performance Refund plan would average about $1,000 per eligible farmer, and payments would go out in the first quarter, in time to help with spring planting, said William Murphy, administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency. More than 67,000 farmers would be eligible, he said.

The plan will cost about $75 million, but the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation said the benefits will outweigh the costs by promoting sound farming practices that reduce losses, discouraging the filing of small claims and encouraging producers to keep using crop insurance. The agency also said the savings may allow for decreases in future premium rates, reducing costs to farmers and taxpayers who subsidize the federal crop insurance program.”

The AP article added that, “Draft regulations for the program were published in the Federal Register on Thursday. The public comment period ends Jan. 21. Murphy said his agency hopes to issue the final rule in mid-February and send out the checks shortly after that.”


Biofuels- Taxes; Clean Water Act; GIPSA Rule; Climate Issues; and Trade

Tax Issues: Political Background- Democrat Opposition Fades, While GOP Concerns Increase- Estate Tax Issues Remain

Janet Hook and Martin Vaughan reported in today’s Wall Street Journal that, “The final obstacle to President Barack Obama’s tax deal—the opposition of House Democrats—appeared to be melting away Tuesday as strong Senate support for the legislation turned up pressure on liberal critics to concede.

“‘It’s a fast-moving train,’ said Rep. Peter Welch (D., Vt.), who has led opposition to the legislation to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for all income groups. ‘The momentum is all in its favor, that’s for sure.’”


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