“Stabenow Says Farm Bill Could Take Some Time in Senate”
While the Senate is expected to begin consideration of the farm bill on Monday – Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow says final votes might take place after Memorial Day. Harry Reid has announced his intention to move forward with the bill – but has also said he will move to immigration reform as soon as the Senate Judiciary Committee finishes mark up on that bill – even if the farm bill isn’t finished. Stabenow isn’t worried floor consideration of the farm bill will be interrupted. She’s optimistic the Senate can finish the farm bill before the immigration bill is done. It doesn’t hurt that Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy is holding a number of hearings and is a member of the Agriculture Committee.
Once debate does start – Stabenow has asked Senators to come forward with amendments that she wants to hold votes on. She notes the bill approved by the committee incorporated all but one amendment the Senate passed last year. Still – Stabenow expects a debate over Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program cuts. The Senate Ag Committee’s bill would cut the program by four-billion dollars over 10 years. The House Agriculture Committee passed a bill with 20-billion in cuts to SNAP. Stabenow’s not thrilled with the level of cuts in the House bill or how they’re made. In fact – she says she absolutely rejects the levels of cuts the way it’s done in the House.
“Reaction to House Ag Farm Bill Continues to Stream In”
When the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 – approved by the House Agriculture Committee late Wednesday – is considered by the full House – the National Cotton Council will encourage Cotton Belt Representatives to support the work of the Agriculture Committee and oppose damaging amendments. NCC is especially grateful to Chairman Frank Lucas for his leadership in including the Stacked Income Protection Plan – or STAX – and transition payments to assist growers and their lenders until STAX can be fully implemented. According to NCC – this provides growers with certainty and provides the basis for a final resolution of the longstanding Brazil WTO case. NCC Chairman Jimmy Dodson says the committee addressed the interests of the entire cotton industry by including provisions to assist U.S. textile manufacturers, extending the marketing loan and adjusted world price redemption process, maintaining reasonable limitations and eligibility requirements, extending the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program and extending the extra-long staple cotton program.
National Sorghum Producers says the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 strengthens crop insurance and leaves the commodity title relatively intact – including reference prices and producer choice. These were priorities of the group. According to NSP – the bill achieves substantial budget savings while maintaining balanced and solid protection for America’s farmers and ranchers.
For the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association – portions of the House Ag farm bill included priorities important to cattlemen and women – including permanent disaster programs, the elimination of the livestock title, maintaining of conservation programs and a strong research title. NCBA President Scott George says the disaster assistance would provide certainty to cattlemen and women who are affected by disastrous weather events and continue to contribute to the nation’s strong agriculture industry. He says the inclusion of disaster assistance programs is a positive step toward providing a strong safety net for producers. George says NCBA was also encouraged by the amendment introduced by Representative Steve King that would prohibit states from setting production standards for foods brought in from other states. He says the amendment would keep decisions regarding how livestock and poultry are raised in the hands of farmers and ranchers where they belong. According to George – NCBA is supportive of the House version of the farm bill and hopes both the full House and Senate take up their respective bills soon and continue to move forward with passing a 2013 Farm Bill which is positive for cattle producers and gives rural America much needed certainty.
According to the National Association of Conservation Districts – the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 demonstrates bipartisan recognition and appreciation for the significant value of locally-led conservation in supporting the nation’s long-term environmental and economic stability. NACD President Earl Garber says the group will continue to work closely with members of the House and Senate throughout the farm bill process to ensure a strong final version of the legislation that protects critical conservation program funding and increases conservation program efficiency and ease of use for producers. NACD says farm bill conservation programs not only play a key role in supporting clean air, clean water and productive soils – but also help producers avoid unnecessary regulation and support the nation’s long-term economic and food security.
The Coalition for Sugar Reform applauded Virginia’s Bob Goodlatte for his farm bill amendment to reform the sugar program – and his decision to bring the amendment to the House floor so the full House has the opportunity to vote for sugar program reform. The Coalition says Goodlatte deserves recognition for his strong commitment to standing up for American consumers and businesses that have been forced to pay a 14-billion dollar hidden tax on sugar since the 2008 Farm Bill. Goodlatte is part of a bipartisan group of policymakers who introduced the Sugar Reform Act. The Coalition says the bill would not repeal the sugar program – but would roll back the most costly, restrictive and market-distorting provisions of the sugar program enacted as part of the 2008 Farm Bill.
Novozymes expressed a need to fully fund the energy programs in the farm bill. The House Agriculture Committee excluded mandatory funding from the version of the bill it passed. Adam Monroe of Novozymes says stable farm and energy policy is good for America. He says it creates jobs, supports our farmers and encourages private investment. He says funded farm and energy policy is better – as it puts those benefits into action. On that score – Monroe says the leading producer of enzymes that turns biomass into biofuels is concerned the House bill missed the mark. Novozymes hopes to see the House follow the Senate Ag Committee’s lead and support a strong, fully-funded energy title.
“Stabenow Says House Ag Farm Bill Amendment Highlights Need for Egg Bill”
According to Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow – the House Ag Committee’s approval of an amendment that would make it illegal for states to ban the sale of foods produced in other states because that state considers the production standards unacceptable shows the need for a national standard on the cages of egg-laying hens. Stabenow has backed an amendment sponsored by California Senator Dianne Feinstein and supported by United Egg Producers and the Humane Society of the United States to develop a national standard for hen housing. She actually considered putting the amendment in the farm bill – but didn’t have enough support to include it. Stabenow says Senator Feinstein will have to evaluate whether to try to attach her measure to the farm bill on the Senate floor.
Groups like the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and National Pork Producers Council – and some egg producers – oppose the measure because they fear it could set a dangerous precedent for the federal government to dictate their production methods.
As for that House amendment – United Egg Producers doesn’t support it. UEP endorses the Egg Products Inspection Act Amendment – a House measure introduced by Oregon’s Kirk Schrader and California’s Jeff Denham that is similar to the Feinstein bill. UEP President Chad Gregory said the Schrader-Denham bill is a preferable solution to the interstate commerce calamity in eggs. He said the amendment added to the House Ag Committee’s farm bill doesn’t set a level playing field for farmers and could affect interstate commerce in a wide variety of agricultural products – noting as many as 150 different state laws could be preempted or affected by the amendment. Historically – when Congress preempts state laws – he said it replaces them with a uniform national standard like the egg bill that egg farmers nationwide support.
“RFA, Growth Energy File Complaint Regarding Duty on U.S. Ethanol”
The Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy have filed a complaint with the General Court in Luxembourg – challenging the European Union’s decision to impose a 9.6-percent anti-dumping duty on all ethanol imported from the U.S. Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis says the groups believe the implementation of an EU duty on imported ethanol violates EU law. The complaint requests the complete and total end of the duty.
RFA and Growth Energy are trying to remedy the situation through other avenues as well. Because the EU’s determination to impose the duty violates various requirements put in place by the WTO – the groups are working with appropriate U.S. officials to pursue a WTO challenge. RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen says they will pursue every challenge available Whether a private challenge in Luxembourg or a challenge at the World Trade Organization – he says they’ll fight this illegal ruling to the end – and will win.
Fourteen Senators signed a bipartisan letter to Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank and Acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis earlier this month demanding the Administration carefully evaluate the EU’s decision to impose a duty on imported ethanol and consider challenging the WTO requirements.
“McCarthy Nomination Advances, New Energy Secretary Confirmed”
Republican members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted against President Obama’s pick for EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Still – the vote was 10 to 8 and her nomination now moves to the floor. Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis says McCarthy is extremely qualified for the post and is known for her willingness to examine issues with a fair and open-minded approach. Stating she would make an excellent EPA Administrator – Buis urged the Senate to act swiftly to confirm McCarthy so she can begin her post at the EPA to continue the critical work of advancing sound energy policies like the Renewable Fuel Standard.
Buis also commented Thursday on the unanimous confirmation of Ernest Moniz as Secretary of Energy. Buis says Moniz is an excellent, well-qualified individual to lead the Department of Energy. He looks forward to working with Secretary Moniz to continue to advance the growth and development of sustainable biofuels.
Advanced Ethanol Council Executive Director Brooke Coleman says Moniz has the right combination of technical expertise and political experience to be very effective as the new Energy Secretary. Coleman says Moniz clearly understands what it takes to commercialize new energy technologies – and the AEC looks forward to work with him as the advanced ethanol industry deploys commercially in the U.S. and abroad.
According to President Obama – Moniz shares his conviction that the U.S. must lead the world in developing more sustainable sources of energy that create new jobs and new industries – and in responding to the threat of global climate change. He said he looks forward to the new Energy Secretary’s counsel on these issues as the administration continues to increase the nation’s energy security, develop the next-generation of clean energy technologies and more.
“Grains Council Meeting Taking Place in Canada this July”
The U.S. Grains Council’s 53rd Annual Board of Delegates Meeting will take place July 29th through the 31st in Ottawa, Ontario. More than 200 U.S. corn, barley, sorghum farmers and agribusiness representatives will discuss trading insights and perspectives with their Canadian counterparts. The theme this year is ‘Smaller World, Bigger Markets’ – and Grains Council Chairman Don Fast says U.S. markets don’t come much bigger than Canada. According to the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa – bilateral trade between the U.S. and Canada is the equivalent of 1.6-billion dollars a day in goods. Canada is the second-largest export market for U.S. agricultural, fish and forestry products – reaching a record 23.8-billion in 2012 – 15-percent of total U.S. exports. Fast says the meeting in Ottawa will provide a great chance to get better acquainted with this great customer, partner and competitor.
During the meeting – Fast says they’ll take time to explore the dynamics of Canadian agriculture and U.S.-Canadian ag trade and review the latest developments on key issues like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the international acceptance of biotechnology. Grains Council Advisory Teams will also meet to review the Council’s strategies and priorities for the year ahead.