January 19, 2018

House Ag to mark up farm bill May 15

The House Agriculture Committee has not released a draft farm bill, but has set May 15 for its markup, according to committee spokesperson Tamara Hinton. The Senate Ag Committee has not yet said when it will mark up a farm bill. Lucas met with Majority Leader Eric Cantor Thursday to discuss timing for the measure.

While no draft has been released, it has yet to be seen how the panel decides to address updated farm bill savings estimates by the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO scored the House farm bill in June 2012 with a savings of $35 billion over 10 years. In a March update, the savings fell to $26.6 billion. The CBO also reduced the 10 year savings for the Senate bill from $23 billion to 13.1 billion.

On the Senate side, Nebraska’s Mike Johanns has told reports his impression is their committee markup will also take place in May.

The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture will meet Wednesday, April 24 to review horticulture priorities for the 2013 Farm Bill. The public hearing is set to begin at 9 am Central time.

Groups file petition in U.S. Supreme Court challenging EPA greenhouse gas findings

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Coalition for Responsible Regulation filed a petition yesterday in the United States Supreme Court challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s finding that greenhouse gases (GHG) endanger public health and welfare, its rule to limit GHG from passenger vehicles and its “timing” and “tailoring” rules that govern GHG permit applicability at stationary sources.

In December 2009, EPA issued a finding that GHGs are an “endangerment” to public health and the environment—providing EPA with a foundation from which to regulate GHGs under the Clean Air Act (CAA), from small and large sources throughout the economy, including farming and ranching operations. NCBA filed a petition with the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals and EPA challenging the science behind EPA’s finding. The D.C. court dismissed the challenge in June of last year. The court also denied challenges to EPA’s endangerment finding for greenhouse gases and subsequent emissions standards for cars and light-duty trucks.

“We have already seen many actions by this administration’s EPA that proves they believe they are above the law. Forcing these greenhouse gas regulations upon Americans, including hard-working cattlemen and women is yet another example of this. We remain hopeful that bringing this issue to the highest court in the nation, the U.S. Supreme Court, will put a stop to the aggressive agenda-driven bullying by EPA,” said NCBA Deputy Environmental Counsel Ashley McDonald.

McDonald added that NCBA originally challenged EPA and the GHG regulations in court in order to take regulatory rulemaking power away from those sitting behind desks in a federal agency and place it back into the hands of the American people.

“The Clean Air Act is not an appropriate vehicle to regulate greenhouse gases and we are certain this manipulation of the Act goes against congressional intent. Once again, EPA continues to promulgate regulations which have a negative impact on producers’ ability to provide safe and affordable food for our nation and the world,” said McDonald. “Cattlemen have a vested interest in protecting the environment and caring for their land. However, these overreaching regulations must be curtailed. We hope the Supreme Court realizes this and puts a stop to EPA’s ‘above the law’ actions.”

Source: NCBA

Despite no floor action, Water Resources Development Act making headway

Floor consideration of the Water Resources Development Act in the Senate has bee put off in favor of gun control and immigration, but there continues to be significant activity on the waterways infrastructure policy and issues, according the American Soybean Association. ASA says the delay in Senate floor consideration provides an opportunity to educate members on the importance of addressing the funding issues related to inland waterways infrastructure.

The WRDA that was passed by the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee has many positive aspects, but does not yet address the key revenue and financing issues that would enable progress on the ageing locks and dams on the Upper Mississippi River.

EPW Committee leaders have indicated that there will be a manager’s amendment that will include federalization of Olmsted Lock & Dam, raising the federal general treasury contributions to major rehabilitation projects and inclusion of a user fee increase. However, it is not yet clear if there is sufficient support in the Senate to pass those provisions.

ASA Washington staff joined with representatives of the National Grain & Feed Association, National Oilseed Processors Association, and other agriculture industry partners in a series of meetings with Senate offices to reiterate the needs and priorities for U.S. agricultural commodities. ASA Washington staff will also meet with staff for Members of the House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee offices in the coming week.

The House T&I Committee held a hearing on WRDA this week with representatives from the waterways industry serving on the panel of witnesses. In addition, the committee has held a “roundtable” discussion for Members and WRDA 101 briefings have been conducted for staff.

In his opening statement and the T&I Committee hearing, Chairman Bill Shuster relayed the importance of inland waterways to the soybean industry saying, “I was visiting with the soybean folks and they explained to me how it costs $85.19 to ship a metric ton of soybeans down the Mississippi from Davenport, Iowa, through Louisiana’s ports, and on to Shanghai, China. It costs Brazil $141.73 to ship the same amount of soybeans approximately the same distance. However, Brazil is planning to invest $26 billion to modernize its ports and has begun major investments in its waterways so that it can better compete with the United States.”

ASA Washington staff along with the Soy Transportation Coalition met with Chairman Shuster in March and provided the information that the Chairman has utilized frequently when talking about the importance of enacting a WRDA.

Source: ASA