More Proof of U.S. Safe Food Supply

California Fruits & VegetablesStock Photo

According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture producers in California raise over 400 commodities, supplying over one-third of the U.S.’ vegetables and two-thirds of the fruits and nuts.  These commodities are among the top ten valued crops in California and include (2015):…

Agriculture Opposition Firing Up

ewgThe two main organizations that oppose agriculture’s interests in the upcoming Farm Bill are the Environmental Working Group and the Heritage Foundation. Scott Faber with EWG and Daren Bakst with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that promotes free enterprise, spoke at a Farm Foundation forum recently in Washington. Both groups are vocal opponents of a number of programs strongly supported by Agriculture groups.…

WRDA Signed Into Law

WRDA Signed Into Law, Now on Two-Year Reauthorization Cycle

Recently, President Obama signed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) authorizing EPA, (Environmental Protection Agency) to provide assistance for a wide variety of projects including $170 million in aid to Flint, Michigan to help repair its drinking water system.

In a bill-signing ceremony at the White House, The President explained how WRDA will “put Americans to work modernizing our water infrastructure and restoring some of our most vital ecosystems.…

Highlights of WIFIA

EPA LogoWater Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) projects will be evaluated individually by the Administrator of EPA based on criteria in the rule and a previously issued Notice of Funds Available (NOFA).  Once a project is selected for a loan individual credit agreements will be developed in negotiations between Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the project sponsor.…

EPA Begins New Water Financing Program

On Monday, December 19, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an interim final rule on credit assistance for water infrastructure projects that will become immediately effective.  The rule allows EPA to begin implementing the new Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program.

National Need = $660 Billion

In the rule, the EPA estimates the national funding need for capital improvements for such facilities totals approximately $660 billion over the next 20 years.  The vast majority of that need, 90% or $591 billion, is for repair, rehabilitation, and replacement of existing infrastructure.

21st Century Global Trade Agreements

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Earlier this year U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation, “It seems like the politics of trade have become rather toxic” referring to the anti-trade mood in the U.S.  Strong protectionism views went on to become major themes in the presidential campaigns of the two major political parties.  This is a striking contradiction for the U.S. that has long championed itself as a supporter of free trade.…

Farm Bill Planning Needs to Happen Now!

Farm Bill planning needs to start now

Farm Bill planning needs to start now

The agriculture industry is experiencing a dramatic downturn as commodities pile up and prices fall to historic lows. Some in the ag industry are hoping the next Farm Bill can help — sooner as opposed to later. With farm loans steadily deteriorating, many farm groups are hoping to get the Farm Bill process started early.1

We’re Not in 2013 Anymore

“The last time we did a farm bill in 2014 our production agriculture industry was having really good times. Commodity prices were good,” said Mike Conaway, U.S. Congressman, Texas’ 11th Congressional District, and Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture. “Well, in 2018, I don’t think that’s going to be the case. We’ve already experienced a 42% drop in production farm income.”2

  1. Farm policy, trade outlook altered by election – By Candace Krebs Contributing Writer
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  2. KBTX From The Ground Up []

Leadership on Congressional Committees 115th Congress

US Capitol

US Capitol

We have reviewed the potential impacts of the 2016 elections on pertinent congressional committees that are important to our clients’ issues.  Here’s what we’ve found:

U.S. House

UPDATE 12/01/2016

Today the House Republican Steering Committee met and recommended the Members below for committee chairs in the 115th Congress:

Agriculture: Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX)
Appropriations: Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ)
Armed Services: Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX)…

Incoming Freshman Members of the U.S. Senate

After the 2016 general elections Republicans maintained majority control of 131017083507-house-floor-shutdown-vote-620xathe U.S. Senate with (currently) 51 of the 100 seats. Democrats currently hold 48 seats.

To date, there remains one undecided Senate race in Louisiana.  This race will be decided in a run-off election on December 10.

Below is a list of incoming freshman members of the U.S. Senate:…

Incoming Freshman Members of the U.S. House of Representatives

Below is a list of the 53 incoming freshman members of the U.S. House of sotu-14-02Representatives for the 115th Congress.  There are 26 new Republicans and 27 new Democrats.

After the 2016 general elections, Republicans maintained majority control of the U.S. House of Representatives with (currently) 239 of the 435 seats. Democrats currently hold 193 seats.  To date, there remain three House races undecided that will impact the final numbers in the U.S. House: Louisiana congressional district 4 will be decided in a run-off election on December 10 and two California districts #7 and #49 are awaiting final numbers.…

Post Election Stock Market

fortunespAccording to the November issue of Fortune Magazine, while 2017  still may be a rough year for the financial markets, history shows us that after each election, no matter who wins, there is a dip in the market that corrects itself. We have the benefit of hindsight that the article’s author, Taylor Tepper, (a staff writer at Money) didn’t have. We KNOW the finale of the election results.

What comes through in the November article is: while The President can have a major impact on our day-to-day lives, presidential politics has a very minor impact on the stock markets. Over the long run.

Seed and Agrochemical Mergers and Acquisitions

A Response to Emerging Fourth Industrial Revolution

Congress has begun to focus on recent mergers and acquisitions in the seed and agrochemical industry. This industry provides inputs to farmers for growing crops.

There are six companies involved in the research and development, manufacturing, and distribution of agrochemicals and biotech seeds, namely Bayer, BASF, Dow, DuPont, Monsanto and Syngenta. All compete with one another for market share while simultaneously working with each other through cross licensing agreements. Cross licensing agreements between companies result in the companies trading technologies and products under certain conditions that typically render enhanced choices of products for farmers and facilitates innovation.…

Farm & Food Bill: $100 billion/year at Stake

Farm BillSince the 1930’s and the Great Depression about every 5-years the U.S. Congress adopts a Farm Bill.  The Farm Bill contains production agriculture & food policies under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Farm Bill titles include Commodity Programs, Conservation, Trade, Nutrition, Credit, Rural Development, Research & Extension, Forestry, Energy, Horticulture and Crop Insurance.

Similar to U.S. demographics, Members of Congress today are further removed from the farm than in previous decades.  Moreover, farm policy is complex as it includes public policies across varying sectors of the U.S. economy that impacts agriculture, the environment, international trade and social nutrition programs.  As we mentioned in our previous farm bill article , Congress has struggled to timely adopt farm bills since the 1990’s.

2018 Farm Bill: Tough Row to Hoe

Family farmThe Agricultural Act of 2014 (P.L. 113-79), or “2014 Farm Bill” authorizes the continuation of agricultural and other programs of the Department of Agriculture through September 30, 2018.  Since the Great Depression in the 1930’s Congress has typically adopted a comprehensive Farm Bill every 5 years.  However, since the mid-1990’s Congress has struggled to timely adopt farm bills.

Consider:

  • To save budget dollars the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993 (P.L. 103-66) reduced and extended many commodity support provisions beyond 1995. Thus the 1995 Farm Bill wasn’t signed into law until April 1996.
  • What should have been a 2007 Farm Bill was not enacted until June 2008. It required six temporary extensions of most programs in the 2002 Farm Bill.
  • The 2008 Farm Bill had to be extended into 2013 and Congress adopted the 2014 Farm Bill in February of that year.

With farmers under financial pressures due to extraordinary low commodity prices farm organizations across America are gearing up for battle for the upcoming Farm Bill.  The next Farm Bill will need to authorize programs for crop years 2019-2023.  Ideally, a new farm bill should be adopted before any new crop harvest.  The earliest crop harvest in 2019 will occur in mid-to-late May of 2019 when wheat harvest begins in South Texas.  Dependent upon the complexities of policies adopted in the new Farm Bill the U.S. Department of Agriculture would likely need anywhere from 9-months-to-1-year to implement the Farm Bill.  That means for the next farm bill, Congress should reauthorize farm programs by roughly September 2018.

Zippy Duvall, President, American Farm Bureau Federation

Zippy Duvall, President, American Farm Bureau Federation

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) is among leading farm organizations including the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), American Soybean Association, NationalCotton Council,  USA Rice FederationNational Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) that are encouraging their respective members to begin developing policies for the next Farm Bill.  Zippy Duvall, President, AFBF posted a blog late last month to their members stating, “…it is time to sound the bell for preparation (of the 2018 Farm Bill).

Mary Kay Thatcher, senior director of congressional relations with AFBF, told Hoosier Ag Today in a recent interview that their organization is anticipating testimony before the House and Senate Ag Committees as early as next spring.

Thatcher explained “..we’ve heard from our cotton producers and our dairy folks, that they don’t think the new programs that were put into effect are working for them. Fairly low participation in both programs and most folks feeling again like they just don’t provide an adequate safety net.”

According to Thatcher, here are some of the biggest challenges in writing a new farm bill:

Small Lobbyist Secures $72 Million from State Gov’t for GA County

Henry County SignHenry County, Georgia needed help.  They needed money to widen GA155. The Board of County Commissioners hired a small lobbying firm and within ONE WEEK, the firm had procured $72 million to widen the road.1

wait for it…

at the whopping cost of $2000 per month for one year. So,  $24,000 netted the County $71,976.000.00. “That’s a pretty good investment, I think,” said Commissioner Blake Prince, of funding the lobbyist’s contract.…

  1. http://www.henryherald.com/news/henry-county-commissioners-new-lobbyist-helps-secure-million-for-ga/article_ca8a9fc6-6421-5280-bf51-88b9ab21ad99.html []
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