Legislative Action News, July 3, 2012

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Farm Bill – House Consideration Next
By Stephen Frerichs

With Senate passage of the farm bill last month the focus is now on House farm bill consideration. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Lucas (R-OK) has scheduled a full committee mark-up for July 11, 2012.  That mark-up is expected to go fairly quickly, possibly within in a day or two. What happens after that is less clear.

Ideally, after committee mark-up the Republican leadership would allow floor time for full House consideration of the farm bill sometime during the remaining weeks in July.  Passage by the House prior to the August recess would permit relevant committee staff to conference the two versions during the August recess so that a conference bill could be voted on in September prior to the expiration at the end of September of the current farm bill.  So far House leadership has not indicated that they will allow floor time for a farm bill in July. In fact, current rumors are House leadership is not inclined to grant the farm bill floor time for a host of reasons, not the least of which is successfully passing the bill may be very difficult.

If the House leadership does not grant floor time in July, it will also not do so in September which makes an extension necessary. An extension could be for up to a year with the hope of finishing the farm bill during the lame duck session expected after the election or completing punting the farm bill into the next Congress.  In any case, an extension may be necessary simply because of the time required for USDA to implement a new bill, which means writing rules, developing software and training employees. This farm bill is expected to make sweeping changes to the commodity programs, create new crop insurance products as well as consolidate many conservation programs. It would be unrealistic to have a farm bill completed at the end of September and expect USDA to implement the programs immediately for 2013.

ASFMRA & AI Testify on Appraisal Fee Disclosure
By Bill Garber

ASFMRA and the Appraisal Institute reiterated their support of separating appraisal and appraisal management company fees on mortgage disclosure forms June 20 in Congressional testimony before the House Committee on Financial Services Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity.

The organizations expressed support of clear disclosure of fees paid to appraisers and to an appraisal management company. “We see no consumer benefit with continuing to bundle two separate services, as is the current practice today,” the organizations wrote in their testimony.

The organizations suggested that actual appraisal services and administrative and processing services relating to the management of appraisal operations be separated and the AMC fee moved to the form’s “Origination” section, which is consistent with Section 1475 of the Dodd-Frank Act.

The current draft of the form lists the fee paid to the AMC under “Services You Cannot Shop For,” which also is the same field where the local appraisal company fee is listed.

AI and ASFMRA said that if CFPB opted not to include AMC fees in the “Origination” section, then the AMC fees should be listed directly below the line for the fee paid for the appraisal.

However, the organizations noted one potential complication in separating the fees: the “3 percent points and fees cap,” also established by Dodd-Frank and known as the “Merkley-Klobuchar Amendment.” This provision caps fees paid to banks to 3 percent of the loan amount. However, several large, national banks own appraisal management companies and when the appraisal management fees are bundled with appraisal fees on the consumer disclosure forms, the fees fall outside of the Merkley-Klobuchar Amendment. However, if they are separated on the form, the fees would fall within the 3 percent cap, constricting the amount available to other areas of the loan transaction.

AI and ASFMRA have urged the CFPB to exempt appraisal management company fees from the Merkley-Klobuchar Amendment in support of fully disclosing fees and payees to consumers.

Read the written testimony and view the latest proposed disclosure form.

 Congressional Hearing on Appraisal Oversight

On June 28, The Appraisal Foundation testified before the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Financial Services, Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity.
The topic of the hearing was Appraisal Oversight: The Regulatory Impact on Consumers and Businesses, and you may click on the following link to the hearing website:
You may also view a copy of written testimony of The Appraisal Foundation (and that of other participants) by clicking on the following respective links:
Panel I
Mr. William B. Shear, Government Accountability Office http://financialservices.house.gov/UploadedFiles/HHRG-112-BA04-WState-WShear-20120628.pdf
Mr. Don Rodgers, Association of Appraiser Regulatory Officials http://financialservices.house.gov/UploadedFiles/HHRG-112-BA04-WState-DRodgers-20120628.pdf
Mr. James R. Park, Appraisal Subcommittee http://financialservices.house.gov/UploadedFiles/HHRG-112-BA04-WState-JPark-20120628.pdf
Panel II
Mr. David Berenbaum, National Community Reinvestment Coalition http://financialservices.house.gov/UploadedFiles/HHRG-112-BA04-WState-DBerenbaum-20120628.pdf 
Mr. David Bunton, The Appraisal Foundation http://financialservices.house.gov/UploadedFiles/HHRG-112-BA04-WState-DBunton-20120628.pdf
Mr. Francois K. Gregoire, National Association of Realtors http://financialservices.house.gov/UploadedFiles/HHRG-112-BA04-WState-FGregoire-20120628.pdf
Mr. Don Kelly, Real Estate Valuation Advisory Association http://financialservices.house.gov/UploadedFiles/HHRG-112-BA04-WState-DKelly-20120628.pdf
Ms. Karen J. Mann, American Society of Appraisers http://financialservices.house.gov/UploadedFiles/HHRG-112-BA04-WState-KMann-20120628.pdf
Ms. Sara Stephens, Appraisal Institute http://financialservices.house.gov/UploadedFiles/HHRG-112-BA04-WState-SStephens-20120628.pdf

Another Opportunity to Weigh-in on Aerial Photography – Deadline: August 17, 2012
By Stephen Frerichs

Editor’s Note: There was some confusion about how to comment on Aerial Photography. Here is the article with the pertinant directions including the live links from the pdf.

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) is asking the public for comments about its aerial photography program. Comments are due by August 17, 2012.  Specifically, FSA wants to:

• Determine whether the continued collection of information is still necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the FSA, including whether the information will have practical utility;
• Assess the accuracy of the FSA’s estimate of burden including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;
• Enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information to be collected;
• Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

To comment go to http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-06-18/pdf/2012-14738.pdf See below for the pertinant info on submitting comments.

DATES: We will consider comments that
we receive by August 17, 2012.
ADDRESSES: We invite you to submit
comments on this notice. In your
comments, include the date, volume,
and page number of this issue of the
Federal Register, the OMB control
number and the title of the information
collection. You may submit comments
by any of the following methods:
Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to
http://www.regulations.gov . Follow the
online instructions for submitting
Mail: David Parry, USDA, Farm
Service Agency, APFO Customer
Service Section, 2222 West 2300 South
Salt Lake City, Utah 84119–2020.
Email: david.parry@slc.usda.gov .
You may also send comments to the
Desk Officer for Agriculture, Office of
Information and Regulatory Affairs,
Office of Management and Budget,
Washington, DC 20503. Copies of the
information collection may be requested
by contacting David Parry at the above

SD Ag Land Jumps 27%, NE Sees Record Annual Increase in Farmland Value

From LandOwner Newsletter: The value of an average acre of South Dakota agricultural land jumped 26.8% as of February 2012, according to the South Dakota State University (SDSU) Farm Real Estate Survey conducted by Dr. Larry Janssen and Dr. Burton Pflueger, ag economists, South Dakota State University. The survey places the value of non-irrigated South Dakota agricultural land at $1,742 an acre.
Logon to Member Resources and download the latest edition to read more. http://portal.asfmra.org/Scripts/4Disapi.dll/4DCGI/cms/review.html?Action=CMS_Document&DocID=27&Time=820983562&SessionID=62057594yhofx712z58m6ib178uofz4n8xa01t8fypx92ywdh85706r0j6bv566f&MenuKey=123

Updates on U.S. Farm Conservation Programs
From The Kiplinger Agriculture Letter

For U.S. farm conservation programs… further revisions are coming from Congress as the House takes up the Senate-passed farm bill in mid-July. Odds still favor final passage this year.

Figure on less federal funding, for sure. Annual USDA spending for conservation has more than doubled during the past decade, to more than $6.3 billion this year. The farm bill will trim yearly spending by $700 million or more.

And fewer programs. The Senate’s plan consolidates 23 of them into just 13: For example, it fuses the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program with wetlands and grasslands reserve programs to help free up funds for conservation easements. The House will shorten the menu of programs further.
Logon to Member Resources to download the latest issue.

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