Legislative Action News, March 19, 2013

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ASFMRA Joins 42 Organizations Supporting Crop Insurance
By Stephen Frerichs

ASFMRA joined with 42 other organizations in a letter sent to all members of Congress expressing strong support for the crop insurance program and private sector delivery of the program. As reauthorization of the farm bill starts to heat up, crop insurance along with other farm programs are under attack from various non-farm groups like the Environmental Working Group (EWG).  Download a copy of the letter that was sent to House members (an identical letter was sent to the Senate).

House and Senate Budgets Released
By Stephen Frerichs

The 1974 Budget Control Act requires Congress to produce a joint budget resolution by April 15th of each year. Congress has not done so for quite some time. However, both the Senate and House budget committees started the process this year by releasing their versions of a 10 year budget. The House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his budget last week. It would balance the federal budget in a 10 year time frame.  The agricultural component of the House Budget calls for $31 billion in savings over 10 years from “budget function 350” which encompasses farm programs and crop insurance.  It also includes a cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) of $130 billion over 10 years.

Both Agriculture Chairman Lucas (R-OK) and Ranking Member Peterson (D-MN) released statements after the release of the House budget.  Chairman Lucas, in part, said: “The House Agriculture Committee remains committed to being a part of the solution in addressing our nation’s debt crisis.  Last year, we developed a reform-minded, fiscally responsible farm bill that contributed to deficit reduction and we will continue on that same course this year.  We will consider the suggestions contained in Chairman Ryan’s budget, as is customary for the Agriculture Committee to consider a variety of viewpoints when crafting comprehensive legislation.”   While Ranking Member Peterson, in part, said: “The House Agriculture Committee has repeatedly shown that it is possible to work together to find budget savings in a bipartisan fashion by making balanced cuts across farm bill programs. It wasn’t an easy process but we did it because that’s our job. If the House Republicans do take the Ryan budget numbers seriously, I don’t see how they can be serious about passing long-term farm policy this year. If these are the budget priorities for the House Majority, agriculture might best be served by again extending the current farm bill.”

The Senate budget introduced by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and passed out of Committee last week includes a $23 billion cut over 10 years from programs under the jurisdiction of the Senate Agriculture Committee.  The resolution says, in part, “The Senate Budget assumes $23 billion in savings can be found from reforming agriculture programs. Our budget supports the efforts of the Senate Agriculture Committee to write a new farm bill that will make significant reforms to farm programs, while refocusing support on helping farmers throughout the country manage risk.”

Both budgets should be on the respective floors this week for consideration and both are expected to pass. However the resolutions are so different that a conference to resolve differences and produce a joint budget resolution seems unlikely.  Producing a farm bill this year without a joint Budget resolution will be difficult. However, both Chairman Lucas and Chairwoman Stabenow are saying they would like to start the process in late April/early May.

ASFMRA-AI Advocate for Issue-Specific Appraiser Complaint Forms
By Bill Garber

The American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers and Appraisal Institute jointly sent a letter Feb. 28 to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the National Credit Union Administration and the Comptroller of the Currency expressing concern about the broad reach of a proposed Interagency Appraisal Complaint form.

The agencies intend to provide a copy of the form to individual complainants, who, in turn, will return to the agency for information gathering and potential referral.

In its letter, ASFMRA and AI expressed concern that the proposed form may not be the most effective approach and instead recommended complaint forms that addressed specific audiences and suggested three ways to improve the usefulness of the form:

1. The agencies should not accept complaints regarding “inaccurate” values or disagreements with the value provided by the appraiser.
2. The current section of the form entitled, “Who are you complaining about” is insufficient and should include, at a minimum, options for real estate agents and mortgage brokers.
3. Use only one classification of “appraiser.”

The letter also noted that the same suggestions apply to a form that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau supposedly is developing separately from the Interagency Complaint Form.

Read the joint AI/ASFMRA letter: http://www.appraisalinstitute.org/newsadvocacy/downloads/ltrs_tstmny/2013/ai-asfmra-on-appraisal-complaint-form-02-28-13.pdf

Appraisal Complaint National Hotline

The Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC) of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council announced last week it will begin operation of the Appraisal Complaint National Hotline (Hotline). The Hotline is required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The hotline can be accessed three ways:

1. Online via: http://refermyappraisalcomplaint.asc.gov/
2. Call Center with toll-free number (877-739-0096)
3. Send an email

For complete information download the press release.

Major farm bill shift for ASA

An interview with Danny Murphy, ASA president
David Bennett

Amid continuing budget concerns and a need to not be caught flat-footed when Congress again takes up a new farm bill, the American Soybean Association (ASA) has shifted positions on what the new legislation should contain. 

The ASA proposes moving away from the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) program it supported in 2012. In ARC’s place, the group would update the Counter-Cyclical Program (CCP) while continuing to support the Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO). Read more on the Delta Farm Press website. http://deltafarmpress.com/government/major-farm-bill-shift-asa?NL=DFP-01&Issue=DFP-01_20130315_DFP-01_343&YM_RID=sgruba@asfmra.org&YM_MID=1379794&sfvc4enews=42

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