Legislative Action News, March 20, 2012

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Membership  Directory – Wrong Name on Your Label?

Did you receive a copy of the 2012 Membership Directory with someone else’s name on the label? The Membership Directory was mailed late last week, since then we have learned that a sorting problem occurred with the mailing list.  All members will still receive a copy of the directory at the address we have on record. When you receive your copy, it will most likely come with another member’s name on the back cover.  We ask that you please disregard the incorrect name and hang on to the copy you received.  If you don’t receive a copy, or need another copy of the Membership Directory, please contact Jeremy Lewis at 303-6392-1218 or by email at jlewis@asfmra.org.

Senate Finishes Farm Bill Hearings with Commodity Title and Crop Insurance
By Stephen Frerichs

The Senate Agriculture Committee held a marathon hearing (over 4 hours) last week with 13 different witnesses on four separate panels testifying about the commodity title and the crop insurance program.  Generally, all of the farm groups that testified said that crop insurance is their primary risk management tool and should not be cut in the 2012 farm bill.  Beyond that, there was no general agreement by the farm groups on how to best structure the commodity title. It seems each commodity or farm group has a slightly (or significantly) different approach on what it wants out of the next farm bill.  You can find copies of the written testimony and a video replay of the hearing here: http://www.ag.senate.gov/hearings/risk-management-and-commodities-in-the-2012-farm-bill

For individual organization press releases related to the hearing follow these links. Related resources can be found in the following links:

The next step in the Senate is for the Committee to hold a mark-up of the farm bill.  Chairwoman Stabenow would like to move the bill as fast as possible and is hoping to have a mark-up in the next two to four weeks. Given the disparate views on the commodity title, the members will need to make some tough decisions in the upcoming weeks.

House Field Hearing March 23 in Illinois and March 30 in Arkansas
By Stephen Frerichs

The next House Agriculture Committee field hearing will be held in Galesburg, Illinois.  It will be a great opportunity for those of you within driving distance to meet members of the House Agriculture Committee.  In addition, on March 30 the House Agriculture Committee will hold a field hearing in Arkansas. Please let Stephen know if you attend either one of these.

Friday, March 23, 2012 – 9:00 a.m. CDT
Carl Sandburg College, Student Center Building B
2400 Tom L. Wilson Blvd.
Galesburg, IL 61401

Friday, March 30, 2012 – 9:00 a.m. CDT
Riceland Hall, Fowler Center
Arkansas State University
201 Olympic Drive
State University, AR 72467

USDA Warns of Fraudulent Letters
By Stephen Frerichs

USDA officials learned Friday afternoon, March 16th, 2012, that fraudulent letters are being sent by FAX to individuals and businesses in at least four states. The letters purportedly come from a USDA procurement officer and seek personal information. These letters are false and in no case should a recipient respond with personal and financial information. The fraudulent letters bear USDA’s logo and seal and are signed by an individual identified as “Frank Rutenberg” using a title of “Senior Procurement Officer”. Letters have been received by FAX in Alabama, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, but may have also been sent to other states. Recipients should should not supply the requested information. USDA is investigating this matter through the Office of the Inspector General.

If you suspect you have received such a letter or have questions please contact USDA at: procurement.policy@dm.usda.gov or call 202-720-9448.

House Agriculture Committee Sends Letter to House Budget Committee
By Stephen Frerichs

Every year, the House Agriculture Committee sends a “views and estimates” letter to the House Budget Committee before the House Budget Committee starts to write a budget.  On a voice vote, the House Agriculture Committee approved its views and estimates letter.  The letter indicates that the farm bill will be the main focus of the House Agriculture Committee this year and it expresses strong support for the crop insurance program.  The Committee also indicates that it prefers to stick with the $23 billion in cuts proposed last year to the Super Committee.  Recall the House Budget last year called for significantly higher cuts than the $23 billion agreed to by Chairman Lucas and Chairwoman Stabenow.  The House Budget Committee has planned a mark-up of its budget this week.

You can find a full copy of the letter here: http://agriculture.house.gov/pdf/letters/2013BudgetViewsEstimatesLetter.pdf

Veteran’s Farming Project Workshop
By Stephen Frerichs

The Center for Rural Affairs and other partner agencies are reaching out to veterans that would like to start or get back into farming as well as landowners that are willing to offer ground to help a veteran farm. It can include land leasing options all the way to helping them own ground to farm.

The project is to reach a minimum of 100 veterans interested in farming. Outreach is a significant component of this project to identify and invite farmers interested in farming to two workshops in Kansas and two workshops in Nebraska as well as two farm tours in each state.

For more information go to: http://www.cfra.org/veteran_farmers_project

Ag Committee hammers Dodd-Frank costs
David Bennett, Delta Farm Press

During a Feb. 29 hearing on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), members of the House Agriculture Committee assailed the cost – both in treasure and labor – of implementing the new Dodd-Frank regulations governing finance.

In his opening statement, Oklahoma Rep. Frank Lucas, committee chairman, said while the CFTC is implementing new rules “I remain concerned about the breadth of the proposals. Instead of focusing resources on the entities and activities that pose the most significant risks to our financial system, the CFTC is casting a wide net that could needlessly catch end-users.”
Read the entire story on the Western Farm Press website: http://westernfarmpress.com/government/ag-committee-hammers-dodd-frank-costs?NL=WFP-01&Issue=WFP-01_20120308_WFP-01_823&YM_RID=sgruba@asfmra.org&YM_MID=1296758

EPA top ag advisor talks regulations and frustrations

Farmers and agriculture industry representatives attending the 2012 Commodity Classic had the chance to ask questions of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) top agricultural advisor at a learning center session sponsored by the NAWG Foundation.

Agricultural Counselor to Administrator Lisa Jackson, Larry Elworth spoke and answered questions, after which he talked with members of the audience and media.

Elworth reviewed his comments with NAWG for an audio interview posted online at http://www.wheatworld.org/wp-content/uploads/audio-elworth-q-and-a-classic-20120307.mp3.
Read the entire story on the Western Farm Press website: http://westernfarmpress.com/government/epa-top-ag-advisor-talks-regulations-and-frustrations?NL=WFP-01&Issue=WFP-01_20120312_WFP-01_902&YM_RID=sgruba@asfmra.org&YM_MID=1297298

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