Ag News Roundup – October 18, 2011 – Subsidies, Conservation, Federal Budget

When one farm subsidy ends, another to take its place

New York Times

Direct payments have come under fire, however, because farmers get them whether markets are high or low. The new subsidy, called shallow-loss protection, would act as a free insurance policy to cover commodity farmers against small drops in revenue.

Most commodity farmers already buy crop insurance to protect themselves against major losses caused by large drops in prices or damage to crops. Those policies typically guarantee 75 to 85 percent of a farmer’s revenue, with the federal government spending $6 billion a year to pay more than half the cost of farmers’ premiums. …

Read the entire article at The New York Times

Conservation Reserve Program on chopping block

Omaha World-Herald

Hunters across the Midwest have had a taste of the good old days during the past 25 years.

Habitat on millions of acres of farmland by the voluntary federal Conservation Reserve Program — which pays farmers to take marginal land out of production and return it to grassland — created ring-necked pheasants, quail, ducks, deer and wild turkeys.

Despite tough weather from drought in Kansas to hard winters in the Dakotas this year, there are still millions of ringnecks to be flushed from the grasslands, fence rows and field edges in pheasant country this fall thanks to landowners who enrolled acres in the Conservation Reserve Program years ago.

Read the rest at the Omaha World-Herald

Alternative fuel event in Orrville draws big fleets, big ideas

Farm and Dairy

Running trucks on alternative fuel and compressed natural gas is nothing new, but the infrastructure to make it practical and affordable is finally coming of age.

At an alternative fuels event held Oct. 6 in Orrville, Smith Dairy fleet manager Chuck Diehl stole the show by proposing that half of the company’s new truck funds for 2012 go toward alternative fuel vehicles, and that the company pursue the city’s first compressed natural gas refilling station to serve its own fleet, with the potential for public use at a later date.

There are more than 400 vehicles in the Smith Dairy fleet, which transport all major dairy products. If Diehl’s goal becomes a reality, then 8-10 percent of their fleet will run on alternative fuels.

“We’re suddenly asking ourselves what’s holding us back,” he said. “It’s going to sell itself.”

Read more at Farm & Dairy

Ohio Ag Law Symposium: Gray area remains in CDL law for farmers

When it comes to the need for farmers to obtain a commercial driver’s license to haul farm products or inputs, no news is good news, according to the Agricultural & Resource Law Program at Ohio State University.

“There haven’t been any changes,” said Peggy Kirk Hall, director of the Ag Law Program. “There were rumors there would be some additional federal changes to the CDL provisions, but the U.S. Department of Transportation announced there would be no changes, and provided some additional advice to clarify what was happening.”

The Ag Law Program is a research, outreach and education center supported by Ohio State University Extension.

Read the rest at the Tiffin Advertiser-Tribune

Ag Committees pick number for budget cuts

Both the Senate and House agriculture committees announced Monday that they’re recommending a $23 billion reduction in farm bill spending over the next 10 years to the congressional “super committee” charged with finding more than $1 trillion in lowered federal spending.

“We are currently finalizing the policies that would achieve $23 billion in deficit reduction and will provide a complete legislative package by November 1, 2011,” the committee chairs and ranking minority party members said in a letter to the committee. “Deficit savings at this level is more than any sequestration process would achieve and should absolve the programs in our jurisdiction from any further reductions. We welcome the opportunity to explain this recommendation and the forthcoming legislative proposal upon request from the Joint Committee.”

The letter is signed by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and the committee’s ranking Democrat, Collin Peterson of Minnesota, as well as Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and the ranking Republican, Pat Roberts of Kansas.


EPA will not tighten farm dust standards

The Hill

The Environmental Protection Agency said Friday it will not tighten controls on farm dust, the latest effort to quell concerns by Republicans and others that the agency will impose new regulations on the agriculture industry.

In a letter to Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said she will soon recommend to the White House Office of Management and Budget that existing regulations governing coarse particulate matter from industrial and agricultural operations — often called farm dust — remain in place.

Read the rest at The Hill

FDA boosts efforts to ensure food safety

Palm Beach Post

How much more are you willing to pay for food to ensure that it is safe to eat?

While we’d like to think the nation’s food supply is already safe enough, it’s apparent that’s not the case. We know that 23 people have died recently after eating Colorado-grown cantaloupe contaminated with listeria, a deadly bacteria. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control are still investigating the outbreak.

Read the rest at the Palm Beach Post





Commentary: Budget Austerity – At the Point of Diminishing Return

by Joe Logan, OFU Executive Committeeman

As the global economy teetered at the point of collapse in 2008, governmental leaders in the administrations of both the out-going President Bush and the in-coming President Obama, took the types of actions which virtually all economists advocated. They made massive investments in crucial financial and industrial corporations that were deemed to be crucial to our economic survival.

No good deed goes unpunished.

[Read more…]

With Looming Congressional Super Panel on Debt Reduction, NFU Asks Congress, President Obama for Balance in Cuts

The National Farmers Union on Tuesday released the following statement from NFU President Roger Johnson after Senate passage and President Barack Obama’s signing of the debt ceiling legislation:

“I am pleased that the members of Congress and the White House were finally able to come to an agreement on this issue. However, despite the anxiety and negotiating this past week, many difficult decisions remain in the weeks ahead.

“In a recent letter to the White House and Congressional leaders, NFU and 33 other agriculture and rural organizations asked that any cuts to agriculture be proportional and that credit be given to agriculture for the $6 billion reduction it absorbed last year. NFU hopes that any decision to reduce agriculture spending will provide the Senate and House Agriculture Committees with certainty and enough resources to write an effective farm bill.

“The struggle for agriculture funding is not over. As discussions continue for the 2012 Farm Bill, it is imperative that U.S. farmers, ranchers and fishermen have a strong safety net they can rely on in times of need in order to continue to provide the country and the world with a safe and abundant food supply.”

RFA Says Ethanol Subisidy Not Affected by Debt Agreement

Here’s a statement from the Renewable Fuels Association regarding ethanol, the debt agreement between President Barack Obama and both houses of Congress and what they are looking for in future budget negotiations:

“The current deal to raise the debt limit does not include any revenue raising measures, including the compromise to reform ethanol tax policy. As this deal calls for a commission and a future budget framework, the possibility still exists for a more comprehensive dialogue about energy tax policy, including how to assure the continued evolution of the ethanol industry to new feedstocks and technologies, how to assure needed investments in vehicles and infrastructure to accommodate higher ethanol blends, and how to end the billions in subsidies and tax preferences still enjoyed by very mature and profitable petroleum fuels. With the debt ceiling crisis looking as though it has been averted for now, we hope Congress and the Administration are now prepared to address the nation’s worsening energy crisis, as oil and gasoline prices continue to rise and the nation’s investment in home grown renewable fuels languishes.”

Ethanol Subsidies on the Budget Block in Washington

The Lincoln Journal-Star of Lincoln, Neb. ran a story this morning about the ethanol blenders credit and the tariff on foreign-produced ethanol and how these issues are caught up in the debt ceiling/budget cutting debate in Congress:

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