Legislative Action News, June 18, 2013

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A Big Expansion of Federal Crop Insurance

Coming as part of the new farm bill…
A big expansion of federal crop insurance while other programs are consolidated or trimmed.
Perhaps dozens more crops will be added by ’16 or ’17 to the 120-plus already covered.

Commercial fishermen may get USDA’s insurance for the first time. Also, the department and insurers will draft new ways to offer coverage based on indices of local rainfall and other weather-related perameters.

The new offerings will boost USDA’s costs by at least $500 million a year…maybe $800 million if richer features inked by the House Ag Com. win out. Copyright 2013. The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc.
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ASFMRA Signals Support of House Farm Bill and Crop Insurance
By Stephen Frerichs

ASFMRA joined 194 agricultural organizations in a letter to each House member commending the House Agriculture Committee’s completion of its version of the farm bill and urging the House to pass a farm bill expeditiously.

In a separate letter, ASFMRA joined 50 organizations in strong support of the crop insurance program and opposition to any amendments that would weaken it or limit its effectiveness.  As the House gets set to consider the farm bill on the floor this week, several amendments (similar to those offered in the Senate) are expected to limit or cut premium subsidies, establish a means test or attach conservation compliance to the crop insurance program.

For full copies of the letters click here: Crop Insurance Letter to U S House  House Farm Bill Coalition Letter 6-11-13

House Set to Consider Farm Bill
By Stephen Frerichs

House leaders last week worked to line up at least the 218 votes required to pass the farm bill. There is a fair amount of consternation that the House may not have the votes to pass the bill. Late last week, Majority Leader Cantor announced the House will consider the bill this week, so the vote count must have been favorable, but certainly not a given.  Also last week Speaker Boehner announced that he will vote for the farm bill and Secretary Vilsack urged the House to approve a bill.

Amendments to the bill were to be filed by 2 pm Monday, June 17.  The House Rules Committee will meet on Tuesday to establish which amendments are to be considered by the full House.  Chairman Lucas has stated he expects the House to debate the farm bill on Wednesday and Thursday prior to a vote on final passage.

Chairman Lucas has predicted that he thinks that the House will end up voting on a total of 30 to 60 amendments covering every title of the farm bill, with some of the major areas ripe for debate being Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, sugar and dairy support, conservation funding and crop insurance subsidies.

If you are so inclined, take a minute to call your Representative and voice support for the farm bill and urge a vote for final passage. You can reach your Representative by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and asking to be connected. 

Not sure who your Representative is?
Check http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Senate Passes Farm Bill
By Stephen Frerichs

In an almost anti-climactic vote last week, the Senate passed its version of the farm bill 66 to 27. Several members of the Senate were unable to return to Washington in time to vote due to severe weather, so it is likely the bill would have received more “yes” votes.  Only one additional amendment was considered after the Memorial Day recess, a non-controversial amendment to establish a pilot program for rural internet service by Senator Leahy (D-VT). Over 200 amendments had been filed and remain to be considered when the Senate broke for the Memorial Day recess, but after the vote to end debate (cloture vote), only the one was considered.

The Senate bill did end up with conservation compliance attached to crop insurance, as well as a means test for crop insurance. Entities with more than $750,000 adjusted gross income (AGI) would pay on average 40% more for their insurance than those with a lower AGI.

If you would like to see how your Senators voted click here:  http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=113&session=1&vote=00145

CFPB Updates Exam Procedures for Mortgages, Appraisals
By Bill Garber

On June 4, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) published its first update to exam procedures for the new mortgage rules it issued in January. Those new procedures include rules on appraisals, escrow accounts and compensation and qualifications for loan originators.

CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a news release that the updated exam procedures are designed to help the mortgage industry adjust to changes before most of the new rules take effect in January 2014.

The exam procedures explain how the CFPB examines financial institutions and mortgage companies, including:

• Requiring lenders to provide mortgage applicants with free copies of appraisals and other written valuations developed in connection with a loan application.
• Setting qualifications and screening standards loan originators must meet in order to issue mortgages.
• Prohibiting an increase in payments to brokers and loan officers for loans with higher interest rates, prepayment penalties or higher fees.
• Prohibiting loan originators from receiving payments from both the consumer and another party like the creditor.
• Extending the duration of an escrow account on higher-priced mortgages from a minimum of one year to a minimum of two years.
• Prohibiting the waiver of a consumer’s right to bring claims to court over alleged violations of federal law.
• Prohibiting mandatory arbitration of mortgage loan disputes.
• Prohibiting single premium credit insurance.

The CFPB is updating exam procedures for two laws developed under direction of the Dodd-Frank Act — the Truth in Lending Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. In the next few months, the CFPB will publish its first round of exam procedures for the Ability-to-Repay and mortgage servicing rules.

The CFPB also is coordinating with other federal regulators to make sure each understands the new rules and that they are consistently applied across the industry.

Review interim TILA examination procedures: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201306_cfpb_laws-and-regulations_tila-combined-june-2013.pdf

Review interim ECOA examination procedures: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201306_cfpb_laws-and-regulations_ecoa-combined-june-2013.pdf

Applications Now Being Accepted for Leadership Institute

Been thinking about attending Leadership Institute, but never quite find the time? Maybe this year is the year for you. Applications are now being accepted via this link: http://portal.asfmra.org/Scripts/4Disapi.dll/4DCGI/events/8088.html?Action=Conference_Detail&ConfID_W=8088 Slots for Appraisers are limited so apply now. Questions? Please contact Suzanne at 303-758-3513, Ext 101 or sgruba@asfmra.org

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