Legislative Action News, October 2, 2012

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2008 Farm Bill Expires
By Stephen Frerichs

Congress is now in recess until the week of November 12, 2012. Since Congress did not act on either passage of a new farm bill or an extension of the existing one the 2008 farm bill expired at midnight on Sunday, 9/30/12.  What does that mean?  The answer is not simple.  Some programs actually do not expire with the 2008 farm bill (crop insurance and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), some expire with immediate impacts (MILC and some conservation programs), some expire with no immediate impacts (direct payments, ACRE) and yet other programs expire at the end of the calendar year with potentially disastrous impacts (dairy price support).

The 2008 farm bill’s commodity title does cover the 2012 crop year. In fact, USDA will start making direct payments this month for most of the 2012 crop. So from the commodity title perspective while its programs expire, the impact is delayed. For the commodity programs the effective deadline for enacting a new farm bill is the period when the first commodity is harvested in 2013, which for covered commodities is winter wheat sometime in late spring of 2013. That is not to say that some farmers may find it difficult to secure credit for planting the 2013 crop without a farm bill in place sooner.

A major commodity title exception is dairy programs. The MILC (Milk Income Loss Contract) program expires on 9/30/12 and the Dairy Product Price Support Program and the Dairy Export Incentive Program expire on 12/31/12.  The loss of the MILC program will hurt the dairy industry. The Dairy Price Support Program expiration would mean a reversion to dairy provisions contained in the 1949 Act. Reverting to the 1949 Act would result in USDA purchases of milk at inflated prices that could displace commercial markets.

Several conservation programs also expired on 9/30/12.  No new sign-ups will occur for the Conservation Reserve, the Wetlands Reserve or the Grassland Reserve Programs (CRP, WRP, and GRP respectively). Nor will any new sign-ups for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) occur. Existing contract payments will be made for all of the programs.

The crop insurance program is authorized by the Federal Crop Insurance Act, which is a separate statute from the farm bill.  It is permanent law, meaning it doesn’t expire. So crop insurance is not impacted in any way by the 2008 farm bill expiration.  The same is true for most of the nutrition programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program).

If you’d like to read an in-depth analysis of which programs expire and the implications of reverting to the 1938 and 1949 Acts go to http://farmpolicy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/R42442.pdf

Working Lands for Wildlife
By Stephen Frerichs

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief Dave White and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Dan Ashe announced an agreement last month between the two agencies.  Essentially, participants in the voluntary NRCS Working Lands for Wildlife Initiative (WLFW) will be protected from potential regulatory actions under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) which the FWS implements.

WLFW participants voluntarily implement conservation practices designed to protect wildlife habitat for several at risk species and vulnerable game species on private lands. The species are the greater sage-grouse, New England cottontail, bog turtle, golden-winged warbler, gopher tortoise, lesser prairie-chicken and the Southwestern willow flycatcher. NRCS, FWS and numerous state and local entities are partnering to implement WLFW.

Under the WLFW partnership, federal, state and wildlife experts jointly identified at-risk or listed species that would benefit from targeted habitat restoration investments on private lands. Using the best available science, these wildlife experts prioritized restoration actions on a large regional scale to focus assistance most cost effectively. The federal government will grant farmers, ranchers and forest landowners regulatory predictability in return for voluntarily making wildlife habitat improvements on their private agricultural and forest lands. Participating producers must adhere to the requirements of each conservation practice during the term of their contract, which can last from one to 15 years. If landowners would like to receive regulatory predictability for up to 30 years, they must maintain the conservation practices as outlined in the NRCS and FWS agreement.

For more information on this initiative go to: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detailfull/national/home/?&cid=stelprdb1046975 

SURE 2011 Sign-Up Period Announced
By Stephen Frerichs

The Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced the sign-up period for the 2011 crop year Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) program will open Oct. 22, 2012 and run through June 7, 2013. SURE authorizes assistance to farmers and ranchers who suffered crop losses caused by natural disasters occurring through September 30, 2011.

Produce crews warily monitoring fallout from immigration labor laws
By David Bennett

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has dealt with Arizona’s controversial immigration law, what will happen in states with similar laws? What will be the impact on produce operations that rely on migrant work crews?

While striking down three provisions in the Arizona law — all immigrants must obtain or carry immigration registration papers; law enforcement can arrest suspected undocumented workers without a warrant; it is a crime for the undocumented to seek, or hold, a job — the Supreme Court kept in place the ability of police to check the immigration status of those they believe could be in the country illegally.
Read more on the Southeast Farm Press website: http://southeastfarmpress.com/vegetables/produce-crews-warily-monitoring-fallout-immigration-labor-laws?NL=SEFP-01&Issue=SEFP-01_20120924_SEFP-01_832&YM_RID=sgruba@asfmra.org&YM_MID=1341402

Market Tone: Steady to Strong with More Variability
LandOwner Newsletter

“Steady-strong for quality cropland, more variability.”
That’s how we describe the farmland market in the Midwest.

We say “steady-strong” because we frequently see auction sales that match or mark new highs for the county. We know of several auctions and private-treaty sales that have topped $14,000 an acre recently — one in Winona County, Minn. and another in Grundy County, Iowa. Delaware Co., Iowa posted an $11,125-per-acre auction for 160 acres recently. Illinois saw $11,300 an acre paid for 80 acres in Henry County. Indiana reports $9,285 an acre at a Shelby Co. auction while a few others have topped $10,000 an acre. But not all auctions are bell ringers.
Login to Member Resources to download the latest edition: https://portal.asfmra.org/Scripts/4Disapi.dll/4DCGI/cms/review.html?Action=CMS_Document&DocID=27&Time=820983562&OLDSNID=62057594yhofx712z58m6ib178uofz4n8xa01t8fypx92ywdh85706r0j6bv566f&MenuKey=123&Time=519590827&MenuKey=123&Time2=519602705


The Appraiser Qualifications Board (AQB) has issued the following Exposure Draft with a new deadline of December 31, 2012:
Second Exposure Draft of Proposed Personal Property Appraiser Qualification Criteria
Link: https://appraisalfoundation.sharefile.com/d/s4d3c99577bf48acb
Issued on August 7, 2012. Written comments requested by December 31, 2012.
Send comments to AQBComments@appraisalfoundation.org

Conference Reminder…Early Registration Ends October 4th

After October 4th, registration fees for the AgroNomics, Vision 2013 Conference and 83rd Annual Meeting of ASFMRA will increase. Don’t miss this important deadline and pay higher fees when you don’t have to! The conference in Indiana offers an exciting program along with unlimited opportunities for networking. Once again, the trade show will be held in the same area as the majority of the program sessions offering great interaction between exhibitors and attendees. If you have not yet had a chance to view the Conference Guide, we encourage you to take a look at the schedule, the program sessions, education opportunities and the special events and tours that are available in Indianapolis later this month.

Please direct any questions to Cheryl Cooley at ccooley@asfmra.org or Jeremy Lewis at jlewis@asfmra.org. We look forward to seeing you in Indy!

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