Legislative Action News, November 5, 2013

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The market for cattle is breaking records
Kiplinger Agriculture Letter

Though Mother Nature has flogged ranchers in recent years, zapping pastures with drought and making grain and hay expensive in the feedlot…even hitting them with an early Oct. blizzard in S.D., where they’re still counting dead cows and calves. Login 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

EPA Water Body Connectivity Report – Comments Due By Nov. 6
By Stephen Frerichs

The EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) has developed a draft report reviewing and synthesizing the peer-reviewed scientific literature on the connectivity or isolation of streams and wetlands relative to large water bodies such as rivers, lakes, estuaries and oceans. The purpose of the report, Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific, is to summarize the current understanding about these connections, the factors that influence them, and the mechanisms by which connected waters singly or in aggregate, affect the function of downstream waters. The report could result in changes to how EPA regulates “navigable waters.”

A Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) Panel will meet on December 16 and 17, 2013 in Washington, D.C. to review the EPA Water Body Connectivity Report. The SAB provides advice to the EPA Administrator. The two day SAB meeting is a public meeting and the public can comment on the report in advance of the meeting by November 6. 

If you are interested in commenting, you can provide written statements electronically by submitting them to www.regulations.gov and following the website instructions or by emailing them to Docket_OEI@epa.gov.   Make sure to identify your comments by including a reference to “Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OA-2013-0582”.

The 300 plus page report can be found here: http://yosemite.epa.gov/sab/sabproduct.nsf/fedrgstr_activites/7724357376745F48852579E60043E88C/$File/WOUS_ERD2_Sep2013.pdf

Farm Bill Conference Officially Started
By Stephen Frerichs

Last week Conference Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) officially gaveled the long awaited start to the farm bill conference.  The first meeting went for two and one-half hours and was mostly opening statements by the 41 conferees (29 House members and 12 Senators).  The next meeting has not been scheduled. The House is not in session this week and returns the week of November 11. 

That does not mean nothing is happening.  Committee and conferee staff continues to meet to work through differences between the House and Senate versions.  Many differences will be resolved in this manner.  The goal is to complete a farm bill before the end of the calendar year when the permanent law dairy provisions would take effect with the expiration of the dairy price support program.

Opening statements:

Chairman Lucas (R-OK): http://agriculture.house.gov/statements/chairman-lucas-delivers-opening-remarks-first-farm-bill-conference-committee-meeting

Ranking Member Peterson (D-MN): http://democrats.agriculture.house.gov/press/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=1193

Chairwoman Stabenow (D-MI): http://www.ag.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/chairwoman-stabenow-opening-remarks-at-farm-bill-conference-meeting

Ranking Member Cochran (R-MS):  http://www.cochran.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/5a1a1a33-e3ee-4633-bc04-14a11c58c9ee/FARMBILL-Cochran-Opening-Statement.pdf

USDA Resumes Crop Commodity Loans
By Stephen Frerichs

USDA announced last Friday that the processing and disbursement of 2013 crop commodity loans has resumed. Crop year 2013 commodity loan-making was suspended Oct. 1, 2013, to make changes necessary to accommodate the automatic funding reductions required by the sequester resulting from the Budget Control Act of 2011. Implementation was further delayed by the government shutdown.

Producers requesting 2013 crop commodity loans on their harvested commodities will have a 5.1 percent reduction to the loan amount upon its disbursement, due to the sequestration. Commodity loans issued by marketing associations and loan servicing agents are also subject to the sequestration reduction.

Storm Brewing in IRS Farm Tax Proposal
By Mike Wilson, Farm Futures Blog

A proposal floating in the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee would require all entities (other than individuals) with gross annual receipts over $10 million to use the accrual method of accounting for income tax calculation.

Under current law, farmers may use a cash method of accounting unless they are structured as a C-corporation (with gross receipts of more than $1 million) or as a family corporation (with gross receipts of more than $25 million).
Read more on the Farm Futures Blog: http://farmfutures.com/blogs-storm-brewing-irs-farm-tax-proposal-7763

Nine Banks Face Federal Investigations
By Bill Garber

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating nine banks for their sales of mortgage-backed securities, CNBC reported Oct. 24.

The investigations, which are part of an effort by the task force that reached a tentative $13 billion settlement with JPMorgan Chase, are occurring in U.S. attorneys’ offices from coast to coast and include probes into Bank of America, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Scotland, UBS and Wells Fargo.

The probes mainly involve allegations that the banks misled purchasers of residential mortgage-backed securities. The probes have not yet resulted in lawsuits, but there have been substantial document requests from the U.S. government.

The investigations are being spearheaded by a joint state and federal RMBS task force formed in January 2012 following finalization of the $26 billion national settlement with the nation’s five biggest banks over faulty foreclosure practices.

Bank of America is under investigation by the U.S. attorneys’ offices in California, Georgia and New Jersey. The U.S. attorney’s office in North Carolina previously sued BofA, though the bank has denied wrongdoing.

Meanwhile Morgan Stanley is under civil investigation by the Northern District of California, and the Royal Bank of Scotland faces investigations by the U.S. attorney’s office in Massachusetts. Colorado and New Jersey are probing Credit Suisse, while New York and Colorado investigators are pursuing probes into Citigroup. UBS, Deutsche Bank and Wells Fargo also are under investigation.

Learn About TAF’s Partnership with the Department of the Interior

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) today announced that it has revised its valuation plan for the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations, which allows interested individual owners to receive payments for voluntarily selling their land, potentially unlocking millions of acres of fractionated lands for the benefit of tribal communities.
In order to ensure owners receive fair market value for their land, the DOI engaged The Appraisal Foundation to review the valuation plan and provide recommendations to ensure the DOI is taking the correct steps to determine fair market value.
See below to learn more about the program and our partnership with the DOI.

Interior Releases Valuation Plan for Land Buy-Back Program; Reviewed, Strengthened by The Appraisal Foundation – Comprehensive Review Finds Mass Appraisal Strategy Efficient and Cost-effective.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of President Obama’s commitment to help strengthen American Indian communities, the Department of the Interior today released its revised Land Buy-Back Program Valuation Plan. The Appraisal Foundation (TAF), the nation’s foremost authority on appraisal standards and qualifications, performed a comprehensive review of the draft Plan, which was revised to incorporate all of TAF’s recommendations. Read the full press release: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/10/prweb11280483.htm

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