Legislative Action News, February 21, 2012

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ASFMRA Joins Others Urging for Farm Bill Passage This Year
By Stephen Frerichs

ASFMRA joined over 80 other organizations urging Congress to pass a Farm Bill this year rather than seek an extension.  Short and to the point, the letter reads:

Dear Senators Stabenow and Roberts and Representatives Lucas and Peterson:

The 2012 farm bill is among the most important pieces of legislation the U.S. Congress will consider this year. We the undersigned have heard calls for an extension of current law. We ask you to reject these calls for delay and aggressively act to ensure that a new, comprehensive farm bill is passed this year.

Farmers need a safety net that works more effectively, and they need access to tools that help them be good stewards of our natural resources. The farm bill also provides essential resources to prevent hunger, which is especially critical during these tough economic times. The bill also addresses short and long-term job creation through streamlined and targeted rural economic development policies and investments in agricultural research.

A temporary extension of current policy creates tremendous uncertainty while serving to further none of these needs. We, therefore, stand ready to help you in an effort to pass a full, comprehensive reauthorization of the farm bill this year, without needless delay or disruption.

The letter incorrectly lists us as the “Association of” rather than the “American Society of” Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers.  View the letter with all the signers:  farmbill12 0213  

President’s Budget Released – Cuts Agriculture
By Stephen Frerichs

President Obama released his budget last week. His budget would eliminate direct payments; propose to continue the SURE program; cut crop insurance and some USDA conservation programs including the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).  With the exception of the CRP reduction (from 32 to 30 million acres) all of these proposals were made last Fall by President Obama to the Super Committee and were largely rejected by Senate and House Agriculture leadership as it put together its bi-partisan, bi-cameral proposal for the Super Committee.

You can find House Agriculture Chairman Lucas’ (R-OK) response to the President’s Budget here: http://agriculture.house.gov/press/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=1531

You can find Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Stabenow’s (D-MI) response to the President’s Budget here: http://www.ag.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/chairwoman-stabenow-statement-on-the-presidents-fy2013-budget-request 

FCC bars LightSquared from Turning on Its Network
By Stephen Frerichs

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) revoked a waiver that would have allowed LightSquared to turn on its network and issued a public proposal that would bar LightSquared from launching its service “indefinitely.”  You can find the Federal Register notice requesting comments by March 1, 2012 on its proposal to prohibit LightSquared from launching its service here: http://www.fcc.gov/document/comment-sought-letter-ntia-regarding-lightsquared-network 

Farm Service Agency Employees Want to Sell Crop Insurance Again
By Stephen Frerichs

The National Association of FSA County Office Employees (NASCOE) wants back into the crop insurance business. NASCOE has commissioned a report that purports savings will occur if the government delivers crop insurance and NASCOE has started a lobbying campaign with Congress in an attempt to achieve that goal.

You can see the lobbying campaign here: http://capwiz.com/nascoe/issues/alert/?alertid=60934381&queueid=7890066096

A copy of the executive summary of the report is available here: http://informaecon.com/NASCOEExecutiveSummary.pdf   The full report has not yet been made available.

Appraisal Organizations Applaud New Consumer Disclosure Form
By Bill Garber

On February 8, ASFMRA and the Appraisal Institute applauded the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) latest proposed version of the Consumer Disclosure Form, which includes clear disclosure of any fee paid to a “Local Appraisal Company” and to an “Appraisal Management Company” (“AMCs”). “Our organizations are pleased that the latest draft of Consumer Disclosure Form recognizes that two distinct services exist – actual appraisal services, and administrative and processing services relating to the management of appraisal operations. This, in our view, is consistent with the Dodd-Frank Act, which authorizes separate consumer disclosure of fees paid for administrative services provided by appraisal management companies (AMCs) and actual appraisal services provided by appraisers,” the organizations stated.

ASFMRA/AI offered one suggestion as the agency moves forward, and that’s to list the AMC Fee under the “Origination” section of the new Form. In the current draft, the fee paid to the AMC is listed under “Services You Cannot Shop For” and in the same field as the Local Appraisal Company Fee. Under traditional lending models, internal appraisal departments were employed to manage appraisal administration. Such services still can be performed internally by a lender today, and when they are, these services typically are paid for through interest rate or loan origination charges. However, the same functions also may be outsourced to an AMC.
“This would help alleviate any concern that consumers may be confused by the AMC and appraisal fee, and for what or for whom the service is provided. Appraisal management functions are those conducted by lenders as part of loan origination,” the organizations stated. “As such, listing the AMC under Origination would be consistent with how these functions have been paid for in the past. Additionally, we believe that this would be consistent with recent Frequently Asked Questions issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which classifies such services as processing and administrative functions.”

This is one of several proposed versions of the new Consumer Disclosure Form that is under consideration by the CFPB. No final decisions have been made on whether to break out the fees, or maintain the status quo. The proposed forms are being tested with consumers at this point, and ASFMRA/AI are expecting the agency to issue a proposed rule sometime this summer.

To view the joint letter, click here. http://www.appraisalinstitute.org/newsadvocacy/downloads/ltrs_tstmny/2012/AI-ASFMRA-consumer-disclosure-form.pdf To view the latest draft proposed form, click here. http://www.consumerfinance.gov/knowbeforeyouowe/

USDA readies for 2012 Census of Agriculture
Western Farm Press

Surveys are now arriving in mailboxes around the nation to help identify all active farms in the United States. The National Agricultural Classification Survey (NACS), which asks landowners whether or not they are farming and for basic farm information, is one of the most important early steps used to determine who should receive a 2012 Census of Agriculture report form. The Census of Agriculture, conducted every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them.
Read the entire article: http://westernfarmpress.com/government/usda-readies-2012-census-agriculture?NL=WFP-01&Issue=WFP-01_20120214_WFP-01_422&YM_RID=sgruba@asfmra.org&YM_MID=1291433

Obama seeks $32 billion farm safety net, conservation cuts
From Agri-Pulse

President Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget proposes $23 billion in discretionary spending for USDA, down nearly 3 percent or almost $700 million from the amount appropriated for the current fiscal year, and suggests $32 billion in savings over the next decade in mandatory program spending on commodity programs, crop insurance subsidies and conservation programs.
Read the entire article: http://www.agri-pulse.com/Obama-budget-ag-cuts-02132012.asp

Share Your Thoughts (Blogs) on AgProLink

Does the B word scare you? Fear not, blogs are easy as one, two, three on AgProLink. Check out the latest by Carmen Bierschwale from Texas and Tyler Mark.

Internship Opportunities
By Tyler Mark on AgProLink

At the winter meetings I asked if anyone would be interested in hiring an intern or is looking to hire someone in a more permanent role. I have several students at Morehead State that would be… more: http://www.agprolink.org/AGPROLINK/Blogs1/BlogViewer/?BlogKey=c59a7e2a-8849-4702-8af2-d6c0caa567cf

Howdy Texas Chapter!
By Carmen Bierschwale

Carmen here. I have been updating my profile here on AgProLink and working on the Texas Chapter forum. I would like to start using this site to keep chapter members informed…. more: http://www.agprolink.org/AGPROLINK/Blogs1/BlogViewer/?BlogKey=6a29dcac-7f13-4cf5-880b-80aa8dffeb6c

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