Friday, June 29, 2012

President's Editorial


Farm Bill Priorities Changing
By Frank Priestley, Idaho Farm Bureau President

Sen.Kirsten Gillibrand from New York recently wrote a column about the Farm Bill
currently under consideration and the nutrition programs that make up about 80
percent of the spending in the bill.

Sen. Stabenow concluded that more money should be shifted from supporting farms to
providing food stamps to low income families. There are now 46 million
Americans receiving food stamps – over 15 percent of our nation’s population.
During her research Sen. Gillibrand traveled around her state and discussed federal
farm programs with many farmers and anti-hunger advocates. She opposes the $4.5
billion in cuts (over 10 years) to nutrition programs contained in the bill.

Sen. Stabenow overlooks two important points. First is the fact that government
feeding programs won’t much matter if we don’t have farmers and ranchers to
produce our food. And second, our nation is facing a fiscal crisis that won’t
be averted unless spending is brought under control.

Just like any other business, farms have to be profitable to be sustainable. Federal farm
programs protect agriculture from weather related disasters and volatile global
economics. These programs ensure a safe, abundant and affordable food supply
for consumers.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) makes up 80 percent of the
$100 billion in annual spending contained in the Farm Bill that the U.S. Senate
recently passed. Farm programs are changing under the new Farm Bill from
traditional direct payments to crop insurance programs that protect farms from
weather and fiscal catastrophe.

Sen. Stabenow is concerned about the 300,000 low-income families in New York whose
food stamps would be cut by $90 per month under the new Farm Bill. Stabenow
voted against the bill for that reason. Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo voted against the
bill because the cuts were not deep enough for his liking. Farm Bureau supports
the bill but also understands exactly where Sen. Crapo is coming from.

What Stabenow’s position seems to overlook is the fact that this nation is staring
down the barrel of a $14 trillion dollar debt load. That’s a nearly
incomprehensible mountain of debt. A trillion is a million - million. One
trillion seconds is equal to 32,000 years. Many of our federal lawmakers seem
to have lost track of the fact that we have reached a time where every
government program must be scrutinized and made accountable.

Farm and food programs make up less than one percent of the federal budget. Farmers
across the nation understand this debt crisis and have supported deep cuts to the
20 percent of the Farm Bill funding earmarked for agriculture programs. What we
don’t want to see are cuts to agriculture programs followed by increased
spending on social programs. What we would like to see is less politics and
more statesmanship from Washington D.C. Above all else, our federal lawmakers
need to find the way to a balanced budget before it’s too late.



Thursday, June 28, 2012


Farm Bureau Endorses Farm Tax Parity Act
Washington--A new bill in Congress to exclude farm rental income from self-employment taxes got the endorsement of the American Farm Bureau Federation today.


 Farm rental income should not be subject to the tax because it’s an investment, not earned income, AFBF President Bob Stallman wrote to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.).



Currently, farmers who rent land out to their own farming corporation have to pay employment taxes on the rent they receive. This is different from any other industry in which rental income is treated as investment income and is not subject to self-employment taxes.

“Farm Bureau believes it is unfair to treat active farmers and ranchers differently from non-farm landlords…for what is exactly the same activity,” Stallman wrote.
Schock introduced the Farm Tax Parity Act (H.R. 5990) last week.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Farm Bill Action Moves to House Side
Washington--On Tuesday, the House Agriculture Committee sent an announcement to agriculture groups regarding consideration of the farm bill. According to the committee, H.R. 5972, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act will be considered this week and H.R. 5973, theAgriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations Act(the agriculture appropriations bill), will not be on the schedule.
                                                   
The House Agriculture Committee markup of the farm bill remains scheduled for July 11. Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) has stated that House consideration of the agriculture appropriations bill will not interfere with the committee’s scheduled markup of the farm bill.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Livestock Risk Management Programs now Available

Spokane--The Risk Management Agency’s Spokane Regional Office
would like to remind Pacific Northwest livestock producers of the livestock
risk management programs available in all counties in Idaho, Oregon and
Washington. The Livestock Risk Protection program for Fed Cattle, Feeder
Cattle, Lamb and Swine and the Livestock Gross Margin program for Swine
will begin sales for the 2013 crop year July 2, 2012 and continue through June
30, 2013; or until the maximum underwriting capacity is reached.

LRP coverage protects the policyholder from downward price risk
during the insurance period. LGM provides protection against the loss of
gross margin that includes market value of livestock minus feed costs. LRP and LGM do not
cover other perils like mortality, condemnation, physical damage, disease,
individual marketing decisions, local price deviations or any other cause of
loss.

Cattle, swine and lamb producers are encouraged to contact a
local livestock insurance agent to learn additional details. Federal crop
insurance program policies are sold and delivered solely through private crop
and livestock insurance companies. A list of livestock crop insurance agents is
available at all USDA Service Centers throughout the U.S. or at the RMA Web
site address: http://www.rma.usda.gov/tools/agent.html.

Monday, June 25, 2012


House Passes Bill to Reduce Gas Prices
Congressman Simpson supports comprehensive efforts for a long-term solution for lower gas prices
Washington-The U.S. House of Representatives Thursday passed H.R. 4480, the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act by a vote of 248-163.  It aims to create long-term domestic energy solutions for the United States.  Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson supported the measure.
H.R. 4480, the Strategic Energy Production Act of 2012, would require the Secretary of Energy to develop a plan to increase the percentage of federal lands leased for oil and gas production.  It also includes language from seven different energy bills, including provisions to streamline the permitting process, improve the auction process for onshore leases, and halt the implementation of burdensome EPA rules until a report is submitted to Congress that describes the costs and consequences of the rules.
“The impact of outrageously high and unstable gas prices is taking a toll on Idaho families and on our economy.  Not only do Idahoans feel the pain at the pump when they fill up, but as the cost of gas increases so does the cost of food and other goods. We need a comprehensive energy policy that will move us toward energy independence and stabilize gas prices,” said Simpson. “In addition, record high gas prices have placed a huge burden on our state’s agricultural and trucking industries.  These problems have grown out of decades of poor energy policy, and this bill takes a big step toward energy policies that work for Americans, not against them.”
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Just in from Washington




Farm Bureau pleased with Senate’s passage of farm bill

Washington--The bipartisan farm bill approved Thursday by the U.S. Senate includes  provisions that will help Idaho farmers and provides a needed safety net, according to American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman. 
            
“While no farm bill is perfect, this is a solid bill that’s worthy of Senate approval,” said Stallman. “The bill includes important reforms and is fiscally responsible, while including important provisions to enhance crop insurance, maintain a viable marketing loan program and minimize the potential for farm program provisions to drive producer decisions.”
 As passed by the Senate, the bill provides $23 billion in savings, protects and strengthens the federal crop insurance program, and encourages farmers to use market signals rather than government programs to make planting decisions.
            
The measure, which was approved on a bipartisan 64-35 vote, now moves to the House of Representatives’ Committee on Agriculture, which is expected to begin work in July.

Thursday, June 21, 2012



FARM SERVICE AGENCY ANNOUNCES ACCEPTED CRP OFFERS IN IDAHO
Boise--The USDA Farm Service Agency accepted 116,434 acres in Idaho into the 43rd Conservation Reserve Program.

Ninety-five percent of the offers made by Idaho landowners were accepted. Nationwide, the agency accepted 3.9 million acres, bringing the total to 29.6 million acres. 
CRP has a 25-year legacy of successfully protecting the nation's natural resources through voluntary participation, while providing significant economic and environmental benefits to rural communities across the United States.
“Once farmland is developed, it's gone forever, said Dick Rush, Idaho State Executive Director.  We can help preserve the land for duck nesting habitat, upland birds, wetlands, and wildlife. It also provides benefits for specific conservation practices, including new benefits for pollinator practices."
In 2011, as a result of CRP, nitrogen and phosphorous losses from farm fields were reduced by 623 million pounds and 124 million pounds respectively. Nationally, CRP has restored more than two million acres of wetlands and associated buffers and reduced soil erosion by more than 300 million tons per year. 


CRP also provides $1.8 billion annually to landowners—dollars that make their way into local economies, supporting small businesses and creating jobs. In addition, CRP is the largest private lands carbon sequestration program in the country. 


By placing vulnerable cropland into conservation, CRP sequesters carbon in plants and soil, and reduces both fuel and fertilizer usage. In 2010, CRP resulted in carbon sequestration equal to taking almost 10 million cars off the road.
The program pays landowners to keep land as farmland and to preserve highly erodible land to improve habitat and reduce sediment and nutrient runoff and reduce wind erosion. Landowners enrolled in the program receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to establish long-term, resource-conserving covers on eligible farmland. Accepted contracts will become effective October 1, 2012.
The national average rental rate per acre for the current signup is $51.24.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Senate to Start Farm Bill Debate Today

Washington--Last night, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced the Senate will begin debating amendments on the farm bill at 2:15 p.m. today. A unanimous consent agreement limits debate to 73 amendments.

Farm Bureau staff are reviewing all the amendments. Currently, the following three are of the most concern: the amendment proposed by Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to reduce the level of federal premium support for crop insurance participants whose adjusted gross income exceeds $750,000; an amendment offered by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) to make all checkoff programs voluntary; and one from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to replace the $4 billion cut in nutrition programs by largely taking money out of the crop insurance program.

Under the agreement, amendments will be considered in an alternating fashion between Democrats and Republicans. Voting will occur today and tomorrow.

Washington Post article

Tuesday, June 19, 2012



EPA Proposes Dust Standard
Washington--As part of its normal five-year review required by the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency last week proposed retaining the current standard for coarse particulate matter (PM10), which includes dust from unpaved rural roads and on-farm activities. 

The American Farm Bureau Federation fought any tightening of the PM10 standard. Tightening the standard for fine particulate matter (PM2.5), or soot, also is on the table. However, the PM2.5 standard mainly deals with cars and factories, not farms. There will be a nine-week comment period on the proposed revisions to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter. AFBF will file comments.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Just in


Stabenow Praises Senate Leaders on Farm Bill
Washington--Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, praised Senate leaders on Wednesday during a call with reporters.
Stabenow said senators from both political parties seem interested in moving forward to approve new federal farm policy before the current bill expires at the end of September.
“I would suggest people not underestimate the number of folks in the Senate who care about these issues, who want deficit reduction, who want reform, who want agricultural policy that works for our country,” Stabenow said. “We’re just going to keep on working,” she added.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Just in from Washington


United States Senators from Idaho 
Welcome Great Big Idaho® Potato Truck 

to the Nation's Capitol
 

Check Presentation Celebrates Mid-Point of 

Seven-Month Cross Country Tour

Washington, D.C., June 12, 2012—The U.S. Senators from Idaho, James E. Risch and Mike Crapo, today joined the President and CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC), Frank Muir, to welcome the Great Big Idaho® Potato Truck when it rolled into Washington, D.C. for a special appearance in front of the the U.S. Capitol Building. 

In celebration of the mid-point of the truck’s seven-month cross country tour, to mark the IPC’s milestone 75th Anniversary, Senators Risch and Crapo joined Muir to present a $100,000 check from the IPC to Enid A. Borden, the President and CEO of the Alexandria, VA-based 
Meals On Wheels Association of America (MOWAA).

“We’re grateful that the IPC has chosen to support MOWAA with this generous donation,” said Borden. “Those of us who work in the field every day to ensure that no senior goes hungry, recognize that we cannot do this without the participation, support and patronage of organizations like the Idaho Potato Commission. On behalf of the millions of senior citizens we serve on a daily basis, I want to say thank you to the IPC.” 



The IPC built the larger-than-life version of the vintage Idaho® potato postcard in celebration of its Diamond Anniversary. Weighing in at six tons, the Great Big Idaho® Potato Truck is traversing the country as a traveling ambassador for the great state of Idaho – the number one producer of potatoes in the country  to greet fans and to help raise both funds and awareness for Meals On Wheels.

“This is a milestone year as we recognize an industry that has worked tirelessly to grow the finest potatoes available,” said Muir. “We know that our potatoes provide nourishment to millions of folks, but many don’t realize how important the potato industry is to Idaho. Idaho® potatoes generate more than $4 billion in revenue annually and employ more than 30,000 people. Agriculture and potatoes, in particular, are the primary reasons Idaho is among the most fiscally sound states in the nation.”


The Great Big Idaho® Potato Truck made its national debut at the Famous Idaho® Potato Bowl in Boise last December when ESPN prominently featured it several times during the Game. Since then, the Great Big Idaho® Potato Truck has made appearances in cities across the country and at every venue, the most frequently asked question is “Is it real?”  We’ll never tell…you decide! 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


AFBF: Multi-legged stool is best approach for crafting farm safety net



           WASHINGTON - American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman at a hearing on Capitol Hill reemphasized AFBF's support of a single commodity option that works for all crops and regions and a strong crop insurance program in the 2012 farm bill.
           Testifying before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management, Stallman said he was confident that AFBF's farm policy proposal could easily provide a safety net that takes regional and commodity differences into account while also staying within budget.
           "Continuation of a multi-legged stool remains the best approach for providing a fair and effective safety net, which should consist of a strong crop insurance program, continuation of the current marketing loan provisions and a catastrophic revenue loss program," he said.
           AFBF's testimony was based on the premise that the committee will draft a farm bill that cuts spending by $23 billion over 10 years, with proportional cuts of $15 billion in commodity programs, $4billion in conservation programs and $4 billion in nutrition programs.
          The House and Senate Agriculture Committees last fall suggested the $23 billion figure to the Joint Deficit Reduction Committee, more commonly known as the super-committee. Also, the Senate Agriculture Committee maintained that reduction target in the bill it passed last month. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), committee chair, said recently that the Senate will bring up the bill for a vote in June.
           In addition to facing budget challenges, Stallman said, AFBF's priority is ensuring that Congress crafts a farm bill that works for all farmers and ranchers.
           "As a general farm organization, we place high priority on ensuring the bill benefits all agricultural commodity sectors in a balanced, coordinated matter," he explained. "While some interested parties can push Congress to allocate more funding for programs that benefit only their producers without worrying about the impact of that funding shift on other commodities, Farm Bureau does not have that luxury and will seek balance among all producers' interests."
           In its farm bill proposal, AFBF has prioritized: 1) protecting and strengthening federal crop insurance funding; 2) developing a commodity title that encourages producers to follow market signals rather than making planting decisions in anticipation of government payments; and 3) refraining from basing any program on cost of production.
           AFBF's proposal also covers apples, tomatoes, grapes, potatoes and sweet corn.
           "The new farm bill must ensure that producers continue to take production signals from the market place rather than enticing them to chase federal program benefits," Stallman continued. "Approaches that allow producers to pick and choose between various program options would impose severe challenges and drive production decisions."
           While the Senate Agriculture Committee-passed bill addresses many of Farm Bureau's policy priorities, Stallman said there was room for improvement. The bill may cause planting decisions to be based on farm program benefits that accrue more beneficially to certain crops, he said. Also, AFBF is concerned that the net effect of the Agriculture Risk Coverage Eligible Acres provisions will "recreate the 'base acres' issues that have given rise to equity and planting distortion concerns." AFBF also is concerned about the potential for a 90 percent farm coverage level "being so high as to induce fraud or abuse."
           Lastly, AFBF opposes the Senate Committee's proposed changes to make the current law's payment limit and Adjusted Gross Income provisions more restrictive. Stallman said that AFBF continues to oppose payment limits and means-testing of farm program benefits in general.
           Stallman highlighted two Senate committee-passed provisions he said AFBF hoped the House would include in its bill. First is the Supplemental Coverage Option whereby program crop producers and specialty crop growers could purchase a county-level revenue policy on top of their individual crop insurance coverage to cover all or part of a producer's deductible.
           "Importantly, this program insures against area-wide losses rather than individual losses," Stallman said.
           Second, restoring critical non-program crop disaster programs, such as the Livestock Indemnity Program, Livestock Forage Program and Tree Assistance Program, would give producers basic risk management tools to help them deal with catastrophic losses, Stallman said.
           The House Agriculture Committee has now concluded a series of three subcommittee-level farm bill hearings before writing a new farm bill this summer.

Monday, June 11, 2012



Report shows increasing benefits of biotechnology

    LONDON-- Farmers using improved seeds and biotech crop varieties continue to see significant economic and environmental benefits, according to the seventh annual report on crop biotechnology prepared by the United Kingdom-based PG Economics. The farm income gains in developing countries in 2010 were particularly striking, according to Graham Brookes, director of PG Economics and co-author of the report.
The benefits of biotechnology to the environment, especially in poorer countries, are equally remarkable, he noted.
     "The environment in user countries is benefiting from farmers using more benign herbicides or replacing insecticide use with insect resistant [biotech] crops," said Brookes. "The reduction in pesticide spraying and the switch to no-till cropping systems is also resulting in reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The majority of these benefits are found in developing countries."
     U.S. farmers use biotechnology for the same reasons as the growers Brookes is focusing on, said Kevin Richards, American Farm Bureau Federation biotechnology specialist.
     "The report's findings read like a textbook checklist for the benefits of biotechnology. With their built-in resistance to pests,biotech seeds require fewer chemicals, which is better for the environment and more cost-effective for growers," Richards said."Also, for many biotech crops, farmers don't have to till the soil,which helps keep carbon in the ground and fuel in the farm machinery tank."
     According to the report, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions due to the use of biotech crops in 2010 was equivalent to taking8.6 million cars off the road for one year.
In that same year, the farm-level net economic benefits from planting biotech crops amounted to $14 billion, with 55percent of those farm income gains going to growers in developing countries. 
Of the total farm income benefit, 60 percent has been due to yield gains, with the balance arising fromreductions in the cost of production.
     The importance of growing more food on less land goes beyond farm income, said Cathleen Enright, executive vice president for food and agriculture for the Biotechnology Industry Organization.
     "The advantages of advanced seed technology for farmers in developing countries come at a time when food availability is becoming more of an issue around the world," she said. "The population continues to grow, but for many farmers, their ability to produce food remains stuck in the past. In order to double food production by 2050 to meet demand, new seed technologies must be utilized."

Monsanto Donates $3 Million for Online Plant Database
Washington--Monsanto Company has announced the donation of $3 million for the development of an international online resource of all known plant species. The gift is expected to aid in the creation of the World Flora Online database. Several of the world’s leading botanical institutions, including the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, the New York Botanical Garden, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and the Royal Botanic Gardens will be involved in the project. About 400,000 plant species will be included in World Flora Online.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Just in

CRAZY WEATHER AFFECTS WATER SUPPLY FORECAST

Boise, ID, June 7, 2012 – The final water supply report from the Natural Resources
Conservation Service predicts water supplies could be tight in some basins in
southern Idaho this summer based on streamflow forecasts.

“Idaho’s reservoirs are worth their weight in gold this year,” said Ron Abramovich,
Water Supply Specialist with Idaho NRCS. “Carryover water storage from last
year will help southern Idaho farmers get through the irrigation season;
however, ranchers depending on natural streamflow to water rangeland pastures
may suffer after such a dry winter.”

According to Abramovich, there is good reservoir carryover storage for Upper Snake water
users, but streamflow forecasts are at 77% of average for the Snake River near
Heise. This could make for tight water supplies by summer’s end depending on
summer weather and irrigation demand.

“The Big and Little Lost River watersheds may also have marginally adequate water
supplies,” said Abramovich. “But I’m hopeful the high ground water levels and
near average streamflow forecasts for the Big Lost and Little Lost rivers, will
help sustain stream flows into the summer.”

“May precipitation can be described as average, fair, and poor depending on what
part of the state you are in,” said Abramovich. “The worst rainfall
measurements were in southern Idaho’s desert basins, like the Owyhee, Bruneau,
and Salmon Falls, which received 50% of average. Streamflow forecasts are also
poor for these areas ranging from 15 – 50% of average. A cool summer with
moderate temperatures would stretch this year’s water supply in southern
Idaho.”

North Idaho is better off, May precipitation ranged from 85-100% of average and June
1 snowpacks are 109 to 130% of average.

For more information about snowpack, precipitation, runoff and water supplies for
specific basins, please view the complete June 2012 Water Supply Outlook Report
online at www.id.nrcs.usda.gov/snow
and click on the ‘Water Supply’ link.

AFBF Outlines Priorities, Concerns with Farm Bill Legislation

WASHINGTON – The American Farm Bureau Federation sent a letter to the Senate outlining the organization’s priorities in, along with its concerns about, the Senate Agriculture Committee’s proposed 2012 farm bill, S. 3240.  In a letter, AFBF President Bob Stallman said that with Farm Bureau’s suggested improvements, he believes S. 3240 moves toward the organization’s core principles for rational, acceptable farm policy and his organization would support passage of the bill. 
According to Stallman, Farm Bureau places a priority on several of the committee’s decisions, including using the $23 billion in savings suggested to the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction last fall; protecting and strengthening the federal crop insurance program; developing a commodity title that attempts to encourage producers to follow market signals rather than make planting decisions in anticipation of government payments; and refraining from basing any program on cost of production.
“While the legislation addresses many Farm Bureau policy priorities, it is our sincere hope there will be additional opportunities to make adjustments and refinements to improve this legislation,” Stallman said.
Some of the areas Farm Bureau believes would benefit from additional policy work includes addressing the net effect of the Agriculture Risk Coverage Eligible Acres provisions to ensure a true “planted acres” approach and avoid recreating “base acres” issues that have raised equity and planting distortion concerns; and re-instituting current payment limitations and the Adjusted Gross Income provisions in current law.
“Fundamentally, Farm Bureau continues to support a single program option for the commodity title that extends to all crops,” wrote Stallman. “We believe the safety net should be comprised of a strong crop insurance program, with continuation of the marketing loan program and a catastrophic revenue loss program based on county level losses for each crop.
According to Farm Bureau, this approach can easily be tailored to provide a safety net that meets regional and commodity differences while also meeting the established savings target. Catastrophic loss events are typically beyond any producer’s control and endanger the financial survivability of the farm—the type of events that in the past have prompted enactment of ad hoc disaster programs.  Having a catastrophic loss program in place would protect farmers from these situations and extend benefits only when needed, rather than potentially being a supplemental source of annual income.
Stallman said that after recently analyzing numbers from the Congressional Budget Office, Farm Bureau now believes it is possible to provide support at the 80 percent revenue level of coverage for all program crops and five fruits and vegetables, instead of a more limited group of crops at a lower revenue level, as AFBF originally proposed.

Thursday, June 7, 2012



SENATE TAKES UP FARM BILL
WASHINGTON – Ben LaCross, a young fruit grower and Farm Bureau member from Michigan, today urged Congress to pass the Senate Agriculture Committee-passed farm bill this year. Speaking at a press event on Capitol Hill on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation, LaCross said without the bill, crop losses could be catastrophic, especially for beginning and young farmers.
LaCross said that due to various weather conditions impacting farms this year, his state has lost an estimated 90 percent of its apple crop, 85 percent of its grapes, 95 percent of its peaches and 85 percent of its cherries.
“If the committee’s farm bill were in existence today, I would have the opportunity to cover more of my crops under crop insurance, using new programs that would provide better coverage at a lower cost,” said LaCross. “It would also provide the ability to use more realistic production numbers by increasing the ‘yield plug’ in years like this one, when my production is going to be almost zero.Importantly, the bill also increases crop insurance assistance to beginning farmers.
“In a normal year, my farm would produce 4 million pounds of cherries. This year, we will be lucky to harvest 40,000 pounds – only 1 percent of my normal production,” continued LaCross. “Crop insurance helps keep families like mine in business.”
The Senate farm bill also continues the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, which offers education, training, outreach and mentoring programs to ensure the success of the next generation of farmers.
Further, it increases access to capital and prioritizes the needs of beginning farmers to ensure they have access to programs like the Environmental Quality Incentives Program – a program that is critical to farmers and ranchers striving to be good stewards of the land and trying to meet tough environmental mandates.
Lastly, the bill encourages older farmers to help beginning farmers get started in the business by providing two extra years of Conservation Reserve Program participation to retiring farmers who transition their expiring CRP land to beginning farmers.
“The Senate Agriculture Committee’s 2012 farm bill legislation would be very helpful to me personally and other fruit and vegetable producers in Michigan,” said LaCross. “But, more importantly, it is a good bill for young and beginning farmers and ranchers.”

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Senate to Debate Farm Bill 
Washington--The Senate is expected this week to take up the 2012 farm bill, which would eliminate direct payments to farmers and cut overall farm bill spending by more than $23 billion over 10 years.

The debate on the Senate floor could be spirited as Southern senators fight the new revenue protection program known as the Agriculture Risk Coverage program, which would supplement crop insurance and cover so-called shallow losses of 11 percent to 21 percent. Southern rice and peanut growers say the new program would not work well for them, according to CQ Today (subscription required). Meanwhile, House agriculture leaders will be watching to see how the farm bill debate goes in the Senate, according to CQ, to gauge whether it’s worthwhile to pencil in floor time for a House measure. The House Agriculture Committee has not yet released a farm bill.

There will also be disagreement between the Democrat-controlled Senate and the Republican House over cuts totaling $3.87 billion per year to nutrition programs, particularly the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or food stamps. The bill also cuts conservation programs, particularly the Conservation Reserve Program, by $6.4 billion per year. Eliminating direct payments is estimated to save $9.3 billion a year in farm bill spending.

With limited time remaining before current program authorities expire, the American Farm Bureau Federation has urged Congress to pass a new farm bill as soon as possible so that farmers and ranchers and other stakeholders can known the details of the programs that will be in effect in 2013.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012



AFBF Outlines Priorities, Concerns with Farm Bill Legislation

WASHINGTON--The American Farm Bureau Federation today sent a letter to the Senate outlining the organization’s priorities in, along with its concerns about, the Senate Agriculture Committee’s proposed 2012 farm bill, S. 3240.  In a letter, AFBF President Bob Stallman said that with Farm Bureau’s suggested improvements, he believes S. 3240 moves toward the organization’s core principles for rational, acceptable farm policy and his organization would support passage of the bill. 
According to Stallman, Farm Bureau places a priority on several of the committee’s decisions, including using the $23 billion in savings suggested to the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction last fall; protecting and strengthening the federal crop insurance program; developing a commodity title that attempts to encourage producers to follow market signals rather than make planting decisions in anticipation of government payments; and refraining from basing any program on cost of production.
“While the legislation addresses many Farm Bureau policy priorities, it is our sincere hope there will be additional opportunities to make adjustments and refinements to improve this legislation,” Stallman said.
Some of the areas Farm Bureau believes would benefit from additional policy work includes addressing the net effect of the Agriculture Risk Coverage Eligible Acres provisions to ensure a true “planted acres” approach and avoid recreating “base acres” issues that have raised equity and planting distortion concerns; and re-instituting current payment limitations and the Adjusted Gross Income provisions in current law.
“Fundamentally, Farm Bureau continues to support a single program option for the commodity title that extends to all crops,” wrote Stallman. “We believe the safety net should be comprised of a strong crop insurance program, with continuation of the marketing loan program and a catastrophic revenue loss program based on county level losses for each crop.
According to Farm Bureau, this approach can easily be tailored to provide a safety net that meets regional and commodity differences while also meeting the established savings target. Catastrophic loss events are typically beyond any producer’s control and endanger the financial survivability of the farm—the type of events that in the past have prompted enactment of ad hoc disaster programs.  Having a catastrophic loss program in place would protect farmers from these situations and extend benefits only when needed, rather than potentially being a supplemental source of annual income.
Stallman said that after recently analyzing numbers from the Congressional Budget Office, Farm Bureau now believes it is possible to provide support at the 80 percent revenue level of coverage for all program crops and five fruits and vegetables, instead of a more limited group of crops at a lower revenue level, as AFBF originally proposed.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Just in


House Committee Seeks Cost Info on ESA Lawsuits

Washington--House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) on Thursday sent a series of lettersto the Obama administration requesting further information on how much the federal government spends on Endangered Species Act-related litigation and settlement costs.

According to the committee, the ESA has become increasingly driven by litigation and is used by special interest groups as a way to bring hundreds of lawsuits against the government. The Interior Department and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are actively involved in more than 200 lawsuits and legal actions concerning the ESA.

The first letter, sent to the Interior Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, requests information on the total cost of the recent settlements between WildEarth Guardians, the Center for Biological Diversity and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as information on how the settlements were reached.

The second set of letters relates to the settlement between the Justice Department, NOAA and the Bonneville Power Administration that resulted in payment of close to $2 million in attorney and legal fees to plaintiffs. The letters seek information and supporting documents on how the large payment was agreed to, as well as information about other cases where large sums of attorney fees were reported as being paid.

Friday, June 1, 2012



New Farm Bill Studies Released
Washington--The Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute on Wednesday released a 21-page report titled Impacts of Selected Provisions of the Agriculture ReformFood and Jobs Act of 2012. The report examines part of the commodity title of the farm bill as well as proposed reductions in Conservation Reserve Program acreage. 

The Congressional Budget Office also recently released some additional numbers regarding the version of the farm bill approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Beets: Idaho's cash crop

Sugarbeets break all-time production record American Falls—Rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of American Falls farmer Conrad Isaak...