Legislative Action News, July 16, 2013

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House Passes Farm Bill without Nutrition Title
By Stephen Frerichs

The House of Representatives passed a farm bill last week by a vote of 216 – 208.  The bill, H.R. 2642 is the same bill as reported out of Committee and amended two weeks ago on the House floor with 2 exceptions.  The Nutrition title was dropped and the bill repeals the provisions of the 1938 and 1949 Acts (permanent law) that are suspended during the life of a 5 year Farm Bill.  The threat of the 1938 and 1949 Act provisions usually forces Congress to pass a new farm bill or in the most recent case, extend the existing one.

No amendments were allowed to the bill as it was considered on the floor. So there were only two votes, one on the closed rule and the other on passage. Both votes were party-line. No Democrats voted for either the rule or the bill.  Twelve Republicans voted against final passage. 

Roll call vote on passage: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2013/roll353.xml

Next Steps on Farm Bill Uncertain
By Stephen Frerichs

It is not clear what the next step is.  Chairman Lucas has promised to bring a “nutrition” bill forward.  Congresswoman Noem (R-SD) was quoted over the weekend that the expectation is for a nutrition bill to come forward in the next two weeks. Crafting a nutrition bill that will pass with a majority of Republicans voting for it will not be an easy task for the House Agriculture Committee and Chairman Lucas.

There is also an expectation that a conference will begin between the House and Senate. The conference is needed to iron out differences between the two bills, resulting in a conference report that can be passed by both bodies and signed by the President. The current farm bill expires on September 30, 2013.  Neither body has named conferees yet. A conference between the two bills will not go quickly with the nutrition programs reauthorization unsolved in the House. The Senate will insist that the farm bill include it. Look for informal discussions to start at the staff level and continue over the August recess. A formal conference is not likely to start until September.

A Comparison of Farm Bill Savings by Major Title
By Stephen Frerichs

The table below summarizes the major spending provisions of the House bill, H.R. 2642 and the Senate bill S. 954.  Both bills, in addition to the savings below, claim savings of $6.4 billion which result from the implementation of the sequestration that is currently in place.  Setting the nutrition difference aside, the Senate bill saves $14 billion over 10 years, while the House saves $12.8 billion.  The largest area of difference is additional spending on the crop insurance program. This is largely a function of the construct of the commodity title, however, not the provisions of the crop insurance title.

CBO Scoring Selected Titles of H.R. 2642 and S 954

  House Senate
Commodity Title -$18.7 billion -$17.4 billion
Conservation -$4.8 billion -$3.5 billion
Nutrition N/A -$3.9 billion
Research $760 million $781 million
Energy $0 $880 million
Specialty Crops $619 million $304 million
Crop Insurance $8.9 billion $5 billion
Total -$12.8 billion -$17.9 billion

The House commodity title relies heavily on higher target prices, while the Senate creates a new shallow loss program, Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC). The Congressional Budget Office assumes greater crop insurance participation under the House commodity title, than under the Senate’s.  This assumption alone accounts for over $3 billion of the $3.9 billion difference.

The House bill carries greater savings in the conservation programs, with a lower CRP authorization (24 million acres versus the Senate 25 million), a lower CSP annual sign-up, and lower funding for easement programs.  While the spending on research programs is nearly identical, the Senate bill includes new spending for energy programs, while the House does not.  All of these differences, including the “nutrition” conundrum, mean a conference to iron them out will take some time.

FSA Extends Acreage Reporting Dates
By Stephen Frerichs

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Juan M. Garcia announced last week an extension of the FSA acreage reporting deadline. Farmers and landowners have an additional 18 calendar days to submit their annual report of acreage to their local FSA county office with the deadline extended from Monday, July 15, 2013, to Friday, Aug. 2, 2013. Only the FSA reporting deadline has been extended. The acreage reporting requirement for crop insurance has not changed and remains July 15.

GSE Reform Bill Introduced
By Bill Garber

The Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2013, also known as the Corker-Warner Bill (S. 1217), has been introduced into the U.S. Senate. The bill would replace Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with a Federal Mortgage Insurance Corporation, a single government guarantor similar to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Among other things, the bill provides that the proposed FMIC establish a Mortgage Insurance Fund, develop standard uniform securitization agreements, oversee the common securitization platform currently being developed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and maintain a database of uniform loan level information on eligible mortgages. The bill, as proposed, would authorize the FMIC to sell data from the database to the public. The bill is not clear on whether such information sold could be used for commercial purposes or whether the information from the database could be made available to appraisers.

Big changes to the bill are expected, and the legislation still faces an uphill battle to pass the Senate. However, the Bill is expected to serve as a starting point for discussion of GSE reform efforts in this Congress. Members of the House Financial Services Committee continue to work on a House version, which is expected to look significantly different than the bipartisan Corker-Warner bill.

New Reciprocity Requirements Now In Place
By Scott DiBiasio

As of July 1, states are now required to have new policies in place regarding the issuing of appraiser credentials to out-of-state appraisers via reciprocity. As enacted by the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, states, at a minimum, must have in place a policy of issuing a reciprocal appraiser credential to an appraisers with a valid credential from a “home” states that: 1) Is in compliance with Title XI of FIRREA (as determined by the ASC); and 2) Has credentialing requirements that meet or exceed the requirements of the “receiving” state.
According to the recently issued Policy Statements (Revised) of the Appraisal Subcommittee, “A State may be more lenient in the issuance of reciprocal credentials by implementing a more open door policy” but may not “impose additional impediments to issuance of reciprocal credentials.”

Most states have already enacted legislation or modified their regulations to comply with this new requirement. Encouragingly, some states have chosen to be more open, and have adopted policies that they will issue reciprocal credentials to appraisers from any state that is determined to be in compliance with Title XI by the ASC, not just those that have requirements that meet or exceed their own requirements.

The ASC has indicated that they will begin reviewing state reciprocity policies as of July 1, 2013, to ensure that they are compliant with the Dodd Frank Act requirements. If it is determined that a state does not have a reciprocity policy in place that complies with the Dodd Frank Act requirements, it is possible that appraisers in that state could be removed from the National Registry and no longer be eligible to provide appraisals in conjunction with federally related transactions.

North Dakota, West Virginia Latest States to Enact AMC Legislation
By Scott DiBiasio

North Dakota and West Virginia became the 36th and 37th states, respectively, to enact comprehensive legislation requiring the registration and oversight of appraisal management companies operating in the state. The North Dakota bill (House Bill 1389) was signed into law on April 12 by Gov. Jack Dalrymple, and the West Virginia legislation (House Bill 2608) was signed into law by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on April 30.

Both new laws are very similar to laws that have been enacted in the 35 other states that have enacted such legislation. Importantly, the new North Dakota requirements are only applicable to AMCs that place orders for residential appraisals, and it does not apply to appraisal firms who only utilize employee appraisers, or to any entities with 15 or fewer appraisers on their panel in the state or 25 or fewer appraisers on their appraiser panel nationally. This new law is effective on Jan. 1, 2014, but AMCs conducting business in the state on or before that date may continue to do business in the state until 60 days after the date that rules implementing the registration process take effect.

To date, comprehensive AMC legislation has been enacted in 37 states. Several other states, including Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and South Carolina are in the process of considering similar legislation. Pursuant to the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, all states and territories are required to enact comprehensive AMC legislation within three years of the date that the federal bank regulatory agencies promulgate rules that contain the minimum standards that must be adopted. To date, no rules have been released by the bank regulatory agencies.

View a copy of the North Dakota law here. See a copy of the West Virginia law here.

The U.S. Corn Belt is breaking its bounds

Traditionally found in states south of the Great Lakes along with Minn., Mo. and Neb. farther to the west…

Corn acreage is spreading in all directions… with plantings increasing in the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, Great Plains and north into Canada. Ark. will harvest almost 450% more acres this year than in ’00. La…100%. N.C…40%. N.D…nearly 300%. Copyright 2013. The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Login to Member Resources and download this issue: http://portal.asfmra.org/Scripts/4Disapi.dll/4DCGI/cms/review.html?Action=CMS_Document&DocID=27&Time=820983562&SessionID=62057594yhofx712z58m6ib178uofz4n8xa01t8fypx92ywdh85706r0j6bv566f&MenuKey=123

AFBF: Death Tax Repeal Act ‘gets the job done’
From FBNews – American Farm Bureau Federation

America’s farm and ranch families welcome legislation that would permanently repeal the estate tax, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation, which issued its support for the recently introduced Death Tax Repeal Act of 2013.  The legislation was introduced by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) in the Senate and Reps. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.) in the House. Read more: http://fbnews.fb.org/Templates/Article.aspx?id=37062

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