Weekly AgNews - July 5, 2017
House Agriculture Committee Holds Farm Bill Listening Session in Florida
On Saturday June 24, the House Agriculture Committee held its first farm bill listening session in Gainesville, Florida. Members attending the listening session included Chairman Conaway (R-TX), Representatives Crawford (R-AR), Thompson (R-PA), Bishop(D-GA), Scott (R-GA), Dunn (R-FL), Yoho (R-FL), Allen (R-GA), Plaskett (D-VI), Marshall (R-KS), Panetta (D-CA). Chairman Conaway stressed that he intends to complete the next farm bill on time and expects to have to make “tough” choices along the way. Many of the witnesses stressed the importance of crop insurance.
Watch the Session
House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Passes FY 2018 Spending Bill
Last week the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee passed its version of the FY 2018 appropriations bill by voice vote. The bill totals $20 billion in discretionary funding, which is $876 million less than the FY 2018 enacted level and $4.64 billion above President Trump’s FY 2018 budget request. The bill provides $55 million for the Risk Management Agency Salaries & Expense (S&E) account compared to $74.829 million for FY 2018, a 26% reduction. The Farm Service Agency S&E account is provided $1.472 billion compared to $1.523 billion (FY 2017), a 3% reduction. None of the legislative proposals contained in the President’s budget to cut the crop insurance program are contained in the House subcommittee passed bill. The next step would be for the full House Appropriations Committee to consider the bill. That markup has not been scheduled to date.
Congressional Budget Office Releases FY 2018 Spending Baseline
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its estimate of federal spending under current law (baseline spending) last week. This estimate becomes the official budget baseline for the Agriculture Committees this year as they begin to write the 2018 farm bill. The CBO estimates for crop insurance have not changed significantly from its preliminary estimate release in January. The program is estimated to cost around $8 billion a year each year from FY 2018 – FY 2027. The CBO has historically overestimated the cost of crop insurance as indemnities historically have come in lower than the CBO estimates.
Importantly, the CBO estimates an average 42.4 million people will receive food stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP) in FY 2017, dropping to 40.7 million in fiscal 2018 and to 32.2 million by 2027, which would be the lowest enrollment since 2008. Even though enrollment is forecast to decline by CBO, it estimates the cost of the program would be relatively unchanged, ranging from $67 billion to $71 billion a year. The food stamp program is the largest cost component of the farm bill.
House Budget Committee Fails to Reach Agreement
The House Budget Committee did not release a FY 2018 spending blue print last week as the Committee continues to negotiate the level of mandatory spending cuts it plans to include. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) continues to push for minimal cuts to the Agriculture spending which includes crop insurance as he prepares to write the next farm bill. Rumors are that he has reached an agreement with Budget Chairwoman Black (R-TN) on a figure for agriculture, but the amount has not been released.
The Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Army, and the Army Corps of Engineers have officially proposed to rescind the controversial Waters of the U.S. rule. By doing so, the agencies will reestablish the regulatory text that existed prior to the Obama Administration’s attempt to redefine “waters of the United States”.
Thune Explains Farm Bill Proposals
South Dakota Republican John Thune rolled out a series of proposals for the upcoming farm bill that he says would help producers work through disaster situations.
Income Cap Proposal Threatens Crop Insurance
A proposed AGI income cap on crop insurance participation could have unintended consequences. Rodney Weinzierl, Executive Director of the Illinois Corn Growers Association has more.
Perdue ‘Can’t Do it Alone,’ Say Farm Groups, Asking Trump for USDA Appointments
U.S. farmers and ranchers, one of the strongest voting blocs for President Trump, are “at a disadvantage” because Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is running the USDA by himself, said 17 powerhouse farm groups in a letter to the president. It was one of the first expressions of discontent with the administration from the politically conservative farm sector.
“We applaud you in picking such a strong secretary of agriculture in Sonny Perdue. … But he can’t do it alone,” said the farm groups. “The absence of high-ranking officials at USDA puts our farmers and ranchers at a disadvantage. It is impossible to pilot such a large and complex agency without a team of powerful and talented people at the helm. We urge you and your staff to move swiftly in filling out the rest of Secretary Perdue’s team.”
Perdue said it will be fall before any Trump administration appointees join him at USDA headquarters. Two weeks ago, he said six nominees, including deputy secretary, were undergoing background checks, a necessary and occasionally time-consuming step before a nomination can be announced and sent to the Senate for a confirmation vote. Besides the secretary, the USDA ordinarily is run by a deputy secretary and seven undersecretaries, each in charge of an operational arm, such as farm subsidies, meat safety, or public nutrition.
Washington Week in Review: June 29, 2017: Budget and Appropriations
The House delayed action on a budget this week, and agriculture policy played a role. Agri-Pulse’s Phil Brasher and Spencer Chase have more.
U.S. Plains Drought Highlights Spring Wheat Supply Crunch
Drought conditions in the northern U.S. Plains that have propelled spring wheat prices to a three-year high worsened in the past week and there are forecasts for more hot and dry weather that could crimp the harvest.
As the world struggles with a glut of grain that has filled inventories to record-highs and cast a wet blanket over the corn and bean markets, the shortage of high-quality spring wheat has taken markets by surprise. The drought in the United States has propelled prices for the high protein grain that is prized by bread makers to three-year highs.
The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor, produced by a consortium of climatologists, on Thursday showed that 25 percent of North Dakota was classified as being in “extreme drought,” up from 7.7 percent a week earlier.
Opinion: Private Land Owners are Key to Rural Land Management
This week, the Senate Committee on Agriculture will discuss the past and future direction of the Farm Bill’s forestry and conservation tools and how they apply to family forest owners.
From the perspective of a family Tree Farmer and avid sportsman, I can say, my family and I, and many others of the 22 million family forest owners across rural America, depend on the Farm Bill programs to help us manage and care for our forests and the
resources they produce.
We hope Congress will consider the importance of family forest owners’ role in providing Americans with an array of benefits and resources, and the needed support that can help us successfully manage our land.
Volunteer for a National Committee
ASFMRA is successful due to the passion and expertise provided by our many volunteers. Our volunteers help us produce The ASFMRA Journal, they help us create and update education and ensure that our members are meeting our high ethical standards. They raise money for the Education Foundation, get our younger members engaged and involved and really keep ASFMRA moving forward to meet the demands of the Society now and into the future. We need your passion, your expertise and your willingness to serve. Please volunteer for a National committee – not only will it help the Society, but it will provide you with rewarding career and professional development and perhaps some fun too!
July 8th is the last day to apply.
July 15 is the Last Day to Nominate a Deserving Colleague
Each year at the ASFMRA Annual Conference, we celebrate excellence and our colleagues at our annual Awards ceremony. Now is the time to nominate a colleague for their service to the profession, the ag industry and the ag community. ASFMRA has a number of awards; the Early Career Award sponsored by Monsanto, the D. Howard Doane Award for outstanding contributions to the profession, the Appraisal Professional of the Year award sponsored by Rabo AgriFinance Inc., the Carl F. Hertz Distinguished Service in Agriculture Award and many more. Nominations for these outstanding contributions to our community are due by July 15th.
Nominate a Colleague