From the House Ag Committee- Today, members of the House Committee on Agriculture met to formally organize and adopt the Committee’s rules for the 114th Congress.
“We have a very talented team of proven leaders whose impressive and diverse backgrounds will be a great asset in the Committee’s work this Congress,” said Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R., Tex.), who began his first term as Chairman this month. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to promote a strong production agriculture system and maintain a vibrant rural America.”
The Chairman’s full statement can be viewed here. Supporting documents can be viewed here.
From USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS): U.S. farmers have adopted genetically engineered (GE) seeds in the 19 years since their commercial introduction, despite their typically higher seed prices. Herbicide-tolerant (HT) crops, developed to survive the application of specific herbicides that previously would have destroyed the crop along with the targeted weeds, provide farmers with a broader variety of options for weed control. Insect-resistant crops contain a gene from the soil bacterium Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) that produces a protein toxic to specific insects, protecting the plant over its entire life. “Stacked” seed varieties carry both HT and Bt traits and now account for a large majority of GE corn and cotton seeds. In 2014, adoption of GE varieties, including those with herbicide tolerance, insect resistance, or stacked traits, reached 96 percent of cotton acreage, 94 percent of soybean acreage (soybeans have only HT varieties), and 93 percent of corn acreage planted in the United States. This chart comes from the ERS data product, Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S., updated July 2014.
The Need-To-Know Memo (Email update from National Journal) stated Friday that, “The farm bill isn’t dead, but it’s fading fast after senators left town without agreement on how to deal with hundreds of proposed amendments. Senate Democratic aides now predict defeat under this scenario: Without an amendment deal, which isn’t expected, [Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.)] will file cloture on the bill next week, possibly on Tuesday. Backers probably ‘don’t have the votes’ to overcome the cloture hurdle, a Democratic leadership aide said. Though the vote might split both parties, most opposition would come from Republicans, many of whom will cite Reid’s blocking of amendments to oppose the bill on procedural grounds.”
“The Republican response to that Friday announcement has a good chance of playing out particularly loudly in the Senate. The upper chamber is planning more behind-the-scenes work on a farm bill, so Republicans will have plenty of time to fill the empty stage of the Senate floor with complaints about the immigration decision.”
The Hill update noted that, “The immigration decision undoubtedly makes tougher what was already tough, like the farm bill, which was already starting to get attacked by Republicans as a $400 billion increase in spending. Or cooperation on moving judicial nominations — Senate Republicans had already decided not to move any more circuit court nominees until the November elections.”
Bay City Times (Michigan) reporter Andrew Dodson indicated yesterday that, “In anticipation of a possible government shutdown, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has postponed a weekend hearing in East Lansing.
“The hearing, ‘Opportunities for Growth: Michigan and the 2012 Farm Bill,’ was to feature two area farmers and focus on the upcoming reauthorization of the Farm Bill.
“In an email to the Times, Stabenow’s press secretary said the postponement deals with the possible government shutdown and that ‘there might be a session in (Washington, D.C.) over the weekend at this point.'”
Recall that last month, on November 23rd, Philip Brasher reported at The Des Moines Register Online that, “Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack today said that he won’t be the next agriculture secretary, ending speculation that an Iowan would snag the post important to a large swath of the state’s economy.
“In an e-mail, Vilsack said he had never been contacted by aides to President-elect Barack Obama about that position or any other.”