Legislative Action News, November 19, 2013

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ESA reform: Farmers focus on voluntary efforts, impact on landowners
From FBNews

Nov. 8, 2013—With almost 80 percent of species listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act occurring to some extent on private land, farmers and ranchers are urging a congressional working group to take into account the law’s impact on landowners and to look for ways to remedy restrictions that unnecessarily impinge on the rights of private property owners.
Read more at: http://fbnews.fb.org/FBNews/Top_News/ESA_reform__Farmers_focus_on_voluntary_efforts,_impact_on_landowners.aspx#sthash.K4GssEOW.dpuf

EPA Proposes Renewable Fuel Standard for 2014

The EPA announced last Friday its intent to publish a rule in the Federal Register that proposes a 2014 renewable fuel standard that calls for 15.21 billion gallons to be blended into the motor fuel supply in 2014. That amount is 16 percent lower than the 18.15 billion gallons established for 2014 under the renewable fuels law passed in 2007. This is the first time that EPA has set the amount less than allowed under the Act.  Once the proposal is published in the Federal Register, it will be open to a 60 day public comment period.  It should be published sometime this week. 

In the interim, here is a link to an advanced copy of the rule released by EPA last week: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/fuels/renewablefuels/documents/rfs-2014-standards-nprm-11-15-13.pdf

EPA also published a “fact sheet” which you can find here:  http://www.epa.gov/otaq/fuels/renewablefuels/documents/420f13048.pdf

Needless to say the Renewable Fuels Industry and its supporters are not pleased with the EPA announcement, while the oil industry is saying it doesn’t go far enough.

USDA Advises Farmers to Plan for Sequester Reduction

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) is reminding farmers and ranchers who participate in FSA programs to plan accordingly in FY 2014 for automatic spending reductions known as sequestration. The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) mandates that federal agencies implement automatic, annual reductions to discretionary and mandatory spending limits. For mandatory programs, the sequestration rate for FY 2014 is 7.2%.

Accordingly, FSA is implementing sequestration for the following programs:
Dairy Indemnity Payment Program; Marketing Assistance Loans; Loan Deficiency Payments; Sugar Loans; Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program; Tobacco Transition Payment Program; 2013 Direct and Counter-Cyclical Payments; 2013 Average Crop Revenue Election Program; 2011 and 2012 Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program; Storage, handling; and Economic Adjustment Assistance for Upland Cotton.

The Conservation Reserve Program is exempt by statute from sequestration, thus CRP payments will not be reduced.
The final sequester reductions may change depending on whether Congress can agree to new budget terms. Currently the House and Senate are negotiating budget terms for FY 2014.

Options for Reducing the Deficit

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) annually publishes a report that lists policy options to reduce the deficit. The report was released last week and includes three agricultural options – Cut conservation spending (phase out the Conservation Stewardship Program and reduces CRP enrollments) to save $13.3 billion over 10 years; reduce crop insurance premiums subsidies and administrative payments (40% of premium costs on average instead of 60%) to save $27.3 billion over ten years; and eliminate direct payments to save $24.5 billion over ten year.  You can find the full report here: http://cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/44715-OptionsForReducingDeficit.pdf  The agricultural options start on page 14.

Long-Term Demand for Beef Mounting
Kiplinger Agriculture Letter

With long-term demand for beef mounting in Asia and other places where increasing affluence prompts a growing taste for more beef products… When will ranchers begin to expand herds, reversing the trend of shrinking the number of cattle?
Login to Member Resources and download the latest issue of the Kiplinger Agriculture Letter: http://portal.asfmra.org/Scripts/4Disapi.dll/4DCGI/cms/review.html?Action=CMS_Document&DocID=27&Time=820983562&SessionID=62057594yhofx712z58m6ib178uofz4n8xa01t8fypx92ywdh85706r0j6bv566f&MenuKey=123

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