Legislative Action News, September 18, 2012

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ASFMRA Participates in the “Farm Bill Now” Rally in DC

Leaders from the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA) along with legislative representatives, agricultural leaders and hundreds of farmers and ranchers came together at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, September 12th to encourage Congress to pass a new farm bill before current farm programs expire at the end of this month. The “Farm Bill Now” rally took place at Union Square near the Capitol Reflecting Pond, and had members from the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives addressing the crowd, as well as leaders from a range of farm, conservation, energy, consumer and nutrition organizations.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., chairwoman of the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee; Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan.; and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., ranking member of the Committee on Agriculture; and many others spoke at the event. ASFMRA members, while in DC also participated in Leadership Institute, a leadership program sponsored by DuPont Pioneer and DuPont Crop Protection. Participants also visited with their elected officials offices on the hill. “It was a great week” said Dennis Reyman AFM, ARA of Stalcup Agri Service, Inc. of Storm Lake, Iowa, Co-Chair of the Government Relations Committee. “We hit the hill and carried our message on 1619 and the farm bill” said Merrill Swanson ARA, of Dugger, Canaday, Grafe, Inc. of San Antonio, Texas who also serves as Co-Chair of the ASFMRA Government Relations Committee. ASFMRA members are anxious to get the bill passed for planning purposes with land owners.

View photos from Leadership Institute and Farm Bill Now Rally on ASFMRA Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/ASFMRA
Entire article: http://www.asfmra.org/asfmra-participates-in-the-farm-bill-now-rally-in-dc/

2012 Leadership Institute
By Stephen Frerichs

Last week 18 farm managers and 10 appraisers participated in another successful Leadership Institute. LI participants met with their members of Congress, heard from House and Senate Agriculture Committee staff and met with representatives of the FDIC, National Agricultural Statistical Service and the Risk Management Agency.  Over one-half of the group also attended the “Farm Bill Now” rally in front of the Capital. Appraisers met with several speakers within the appraisal industry on Monday.  Managers and appraisers both benefited from the Communications & Advocacy Training on Tuesday prior to their Capitol Hill visits on Wednesday.

The major topic for the meeting was the 2012 farm bill. It is clear that the House of Representatives will not take up the farm bill this month, which means that the existing farm bill will expire on September 30, 2012. There is hope that the farm bill will be resolved in the expected lame duck session after the November election.

Highlights of Leadership Institute 2012
By Dennis Reyman, AFM, ARA & Merrill Swanson, ARA, Co-Chairs, Government Relations Committee

ASFMRA held its 19th annual Leadership Institute in Washington DC from September 9th to 14th at the Westin Hotel in Alexandria.  The group totaled 18 farm managers and 10 rural appraisers. 

Appraisers arrived Sunday and enjoyed an afternoon of sightseeing and supper as a group.  They spent most of Monday at the Farm Credit Council (FCC) meeting room near Union Station with numerous speakers. An offsite meeting was held at the Appraisal Foundation office with David Bunton with The Appraisal Foundation and James Park with the Appraisal Subcommittee. Onsite speakers at FCC included  John W. Ross with the Department of  Interior, Brian Holly, Chief Appraiser with the Department of Justice, John Turpin, with the Federal Highway Commission, George Barlow, III with The Nature Conservancy, Bill Garber and Scott DeBaisio with the Appraisal Institute. 

Managers arrived on Monday and visited in the afternoon with several speakers with DuPont/Pioneer including Steve Elmore, DuPont Global Economics Director who will also address the annual meeting in Indianapolis, John Chrosniak, DuPont Crop Protection Director, and Brad Lance, Pioneer Heartland Business Unit Director.   Monday concluded with a supper cruise past the monuments on the Potomac River. 

Tuesday was an intense but very productive day as the entire group worked with Eileen Wixted and Associates in Communications and Advocacy Training.  Ms. Wixted’s high-powered training not only prepares the group to deliver its message on Capitol Hill, but will benefit them in their daily activities as well.   The main message delivered to our legislators was to get the Farm Bill moving and finalized.  Section 1619 was again discussed at length. 

Wednesday morning was spent at the FCC’s  meeting.  Speakers included Mary Kay Thatcher with American Farm Bureau, Senate Ag Committee staffers Tara Reid and Joe Schultz, House Ag Committee economist Craig Jaegger, and lobbyists from corn, wheat, and cotton.  John Hays, Vice President and Policy Specialist with FCC also addressed the group. Wednesday afternoon was spent on the Hill, first with Chairman Frank Lucas’s staff, then individual meetings with each participant’s legislators.   Most of the participants took in some of the Farm Bill Now! rally on Capitol Hill over the noon hour. 

Thursday morning was again spent in FCC’s meeting room.  Speakers included Rich Brown, chief economist with FDIC, Joe Prusacki with National Ag Statistics Service, and Kent Lancios with Risk Management Agency.  The appraiser portion concluded at noon on Thursday while managers traveled north to Chesapeake Farm, owned by DuPont. 

Late Thursday afternoon included a tour of the farm with its mix of wildlife habitat management and cropland management practices, as well as a visit to the Trey Hill farm.  Mr. Hill farms 13,000 acres on the Delmarva Peninsula.  He is a great spokesman for agriculture as a farmer and sounding board for conservation practices required around Chesapeake Bay.  The evening concluded at Waterman’s Crab House.  Friday morning was spent with Don Ganske, Field Development Senior Consultant with DuPont, along with 90 minutes shooting at sporting clays. 

Leadership Institute included great learning opportunities, camaraderie, exposure to the workings of our nation’s Capitol, navigating the DC Metro, and agriculture on the Eastern Seaboard.   Plans are already underway for 2013’s Leadership Institute. 

Thank you to our sponsors and partners at DuPont/Pioneer and ASFMRA’s lobbyist in DC, Stephen Frerichs.  Their leadership and passion puts this event over the top as one of the leading experiences offered by ASFMRA. 

Survey Results in Action

Earlier this summer many of you completed the Government Relations Surveys that asked questions on several issues that affect both managers and appraisers in their day-to-day work. Here are the Power Points that were created from the results of those surveys that were presented at Leadership Institute in DC. Download the Manager Power Point or the Appraiser Power Point.

Farm Bill Discharge Petition
By Stephen Frerichs

Congressman Bruce Braley (D-IA) has initiated a discharge petition in the House of Representatives to consider the House Agricultural Committee passed farm bill. A discharge petition is a procedure used to force the House to consider a measure. In order to be successful, the petition must be signed by at least 218 members of the House of Representatives. Discharge petitions are seldom successful. As of last Friday, 51 members had signed the petition. You can follow the progress of the petition and see who has signed it by clicking here:  http://clerk.house.gov/112/lrc/pd/petitions/DisPet0005.xml   Many farm and commodity organizations are urging their members of Congress to sign the petition.

House Passes Continuing Resolution
By Stephen Frerichs

Last week the House of Representatives by a vote of 329 to 91 passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) keeping the government funded until March 27, 2013.  The Senate is expected to pass the measure this week and the President has indicated he will sign the bill.  The CR is necessary because Congress has not passed any of the 12 annual appropriations bills required to fund the bulk of the Federal Government’s salaries and expenses.  Without the CR most agencies would be forced to shut down operations on October 1, 2012 which is the beginning of the government’s fiscal year.

New FHFA Rules Aim to Ease Buyback Fears
By Bill Garber

The Federal Housing Finance Agency issued new guidance Sept. 11 that’s aimed at limiting a banks’ risk of having to buy back defaulted mortgages by clarifying lenders’ repurchase exposure and liability. The clarification is designed to make it easier for consumers to get mortgages.

The new rules will apply to conventional loans sold or delivered on or after Jan. 1, 2013; existing loans still are subject to buy backs, with Fannie and Freddie ramping up efforts in this area. http://www.appraisalinstitute.org/ano/DisplayArticle/PastIssue/Default.aspx?volume=13&numbr=15/16&id=18535

Since 2005, Fannie and Freddie have forced banks to repurchase nearly $75 billion of mortgages that have defaulted, and as a result, banks have raised their lending standards beyond what the two government-sponsored enterprises require, scrutinized appraisals and demanded extensive documentation of a borrower’s income and assets in order to protect themselves from future buyback demands.

Talking to The Wall Street Journal about the new rules, Maria Fernandez, the FHFA’s associate director for housing and regulatory policy, said that “lenders have pulled back because they don’t know what their future exposure around repurchases is going to be … ultimately that has limited the availability of mortgage credit.”

The agency’s goal, she added, “is to be very clear with lenders what our expectations are so we can help facilitate more liquidity.”

The new rules will bring about such changes as releasing banks from having to buy back a loan under certain conditions if the mortgage has a record of on-time payments for the first 36 months, or for the first 12 months on loans that are part of an existing refinancing initiative, such as the Home Affordable Refinance Program.

“Ultimately, better quality loan originations and underwriting, along with consistent quality control, help maintain liquidity in the mortgage market while protecting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from loans not underwritten to prescribed standards,” Edward J. DeMarco, acting director of FHFA, said in a news release. “These efforts contribute to a firm foundation for a new, sustainable housing finance system for the future.”

The new rules will direct Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to:
• Conduct quality control reviews earlier in the loan process, generally between 30 to 120 days after loan purchase;
• Establish consistent timelines for lenders to submit requested loan files for review;
• Evaluate loan files on a more comprehensive basis to ensure a focus on identifying significant deficiencies;
• Leverage data from the tools currently used by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to enable earlier identification of potentially defective loans; and
• Make available more transparent appeals processes for lenders to appeal repurchase requests.

According to the Journal, industry analysts said the impact of the new rules would depend on how they’re enforced by the GSEs. “If you have written guidance from these quasi-government agencies what their terms are, they can’t really walk away from that,” Laurence Platt, a banking industry lawyer at K&L Gates, told the Journal.

See more of the FHFA’s new rules: http://www.fhfa.gov/webfiles/24366/Reps_and_Warrants_Release_and_FAQ_091112.pdf

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