Legislative Action News, October 22, 2013

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Farm Bill Moving Forward
By Stephen Frerichs

With the House naming farm bill conferees on October 12, the farm bill conference is set to officially begin the week of October 28. Even though the official “kick-off” meeting has not yet occurred, the real work has already begun.

The four principals (Chairman Lucas, Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking members Peterson and Cochran) met last week to lay the groundwork for the conference and according to press reports have directed their respective staff to begin the process of reconciling differences between the two bills.  The staff will handle the bulk of this work. Because Congress is not in session this week, the first formal meeting of the conference will not occur until next week.  The first meeting is not likely to be much more than opening statements as staff continue to work out differences. Once a narrower set of unresolvable items remain, the members will meet to settle the final details of the farm bill, hopefully sometime in November. 
 
The differences between the two bills in the commodity and the nutrition titles remain a challenge. The nutrition divide in particular is substantial with the House proposing changes that result in nearly $40 billion in cuts over 10 years, while the Senate’s proposal results in $4 billion. The budget committee conference that is now ongoing as a result of the resolution to the government shutdown may provide some guidance to farm bill conferees regarding nutrition reforms – “may” being the operative word in that sentence. Absent some such guidance (either from leadership or a budget conference) bridging the difference on nutrition could stymie the conference.

Both the National Farmers Union and the American Farm Bureau Federation re-released their farm bill priorities.

NFU — http://nfu.org/images/stories/legislation/farmbill/10%2015%2013%20Farm%20Bill%20Conference%20Priorities%20-%20FINAL.PDF

AFBF — http://www.fb.org/index.php?action=newsroom.news&year=2013&file=nr1015.html

Budget Conference Started
By Stephen Frerichs

As part of the agreement to end the 16 day government shutdown, a budget conference was started. The conference is tasked with working out a long-term budget agreement to solve our country’s chronic budget deficits and resulting budget crisis. It is yet one more attempt at a longer term budget solution that has so far eluded Congress and President Obama.  House Budget Committee Chair Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Committee Chair Murray (D-WA) lead the conference. 

The leaders effectively have until January 15, 2014 to reach an agreement. The agreement to reopen the government did so through January 15, 2014 and it also increased borrowing authority through February 7, 2014 to meet prior federal obligations. Because the conference will be considering entitlement program reform, it could impact the farm bill conference that is occurring at the same time.

USDA October Crop Reports Cancelled
By Stephen Frerichs

USDA’s Crop Production and Cotton Ginnings reports and the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates scheduled for October 11th are canceled. The next scheduled release for these reports is November 8, 2013. Additionally, NASS’s Crop Progress reports scheduled for October 7th and 15th are cancelled. NASS’s Cattle on Feed and Peanut Prices reports scheduled for October 18th are postponed. While the government shutdown has ended, NASS has not been able to engage in the necessary data collection and analysis over the past few weeks while the government was shutdown.

Farm Bill Conferees
By Stephen Frerichs

The House formally named its farm bill conferees on October 12 and officially requested a conference with the Senate setting in motion the possible completion of the farm bill this year.  House Agriculture Committee Chairman Lucas will chair the conference meaning the House version will be the base text of the farm bill.

The House Conferees are:

Republican: Chairman Frank Lucas (OK), Steve King (IA), Randy Neugebauer (TX), Mike Rogers (AL), Michael Conaway (TX), Glenn Thompson (PA), Austin Scott (GA), Rick Crawford (AR), Martha Roby (AL), Kristi Noem (SD), Jeff Denham (CA), Rodney Davis (IL) and Steve Southerland (FL).

In addition related to trade and tax issues only:  Ed Royce (CA), Tom Marino (PA.), Dave Camp (MI) and Sam Johnson (TX)

Democrats:  Ranking Member Collin Peterson (MN), Mike McIntyre (NC), Jim Costa (CA), Tim Walz (MN.), Kurt Schrader (OR), Jim McGovern (MA), Suzan DelBene (WA), Gloria Negrete McLeod (CA), Filemon Vela (TX), and Marsha Fudge (OH).

In addition related to trade and tax issues only: Eliot Engel (NY) and Sandy Levin (MI)

The Senate Conferees are:

Democrats

  • Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow of Michigan
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont
  • Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa
  • Sen. Max Baucus of Montana
  • Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota
  • Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado

Republicans

  • Senate Agriculture ranking member Thad Cochran of Mississippi
  • Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas
  • Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia
  • Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas
  • Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota

OCC Updates Commercial Real Estate Lending Handbook
By Bill Garber

In August, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency issued the “Commercial Real Estate Lending” booklet for its Comptroller’s Handbook to replace the “Commercial Real Estate and Construction Lending” booklet issued in 1995.

The new booklet reflects updated guidance that addresses such topics as prudent loan workouts, management of concentrations, stress testing, updated interagency appraisal guidelines and statutory, regulatory developments in environmental risk management and discussions of statutes and regulations governing federal savings associations. Also addressed was significant information related to real estate appraisal examiner issues, including more illustrative examples of expectations relating to property type.

Also of note is a new section related to environmental risk management, which makes clear that banks should have policies and procedures in place to address collateral risk related to cleanup and stigma impacts.

See the new booklet: http://www.occ.gov/publications/publications-by-type/comptrollers-handbook/cre.pdf

Is this landowner crazy not to accept this deal?!

There are eight responses to this discussion started by Jeff Berg, ARA, on the Agriculture Open Forum on AgProLink. Read the responses and respond yourself: http://www.agprolink.org/Discussions/ViewThread/?GroupId=331&UserKey=fcc13030-a1a3-40fc-9199-7d2b4ac47214&sKey=BAFCAD32118C4900A068&MID=974

The overall costs of farming will slip in ’14
Kiplinger Agriculture Letter

Thanks largely to lower feed and fuel costs…The overall costs of farming will slip in ’14 after climbing by 12% during the past three years. That’s good news for farmers, of course. But it also comes as something of a surprise since farmers will again plant more acres next year, weather permitting, thus needing more fertilizer, etc. Login to Member Resources to download the latest edition of Kiplinger Agriculture Letter. Copyright 2013. The Washington Kiplinger Editors, Inc.

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