February 2012 Legislative Report

Timeline Emerges for Consideration of 2012 Farm Bill

The announcement by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) that the final two farm bill hearings on the committee’s docket will now be held March 7th and March 14th is another sign that the Ms. Stabenow is hoping to move a bill out of committee prior the Easter recess slated to begin April 2nd.  When coupled with the announcement by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) that his committee will begin farm bill hearings in March, it is becoming clear that movement is occurring in both chambers in an effort to move a bill to the Senate and House floors for debate in May or June.

Originally scheduled for March 14th and March 21st, the final two hearings will cover Healthy Food Initiative, Local Production and Nutrition, as well as Risk Management and Commodities.  It is the latter hearing that has garnered the attention of the agriculture sector.  A one week shift forward might not seem significant but every day counts for commodity groups who have been unable to reach agreement as to what the farm bill safety-net should look like. 

Last November, in an effort to retain control of agriculture’s policy destiny the leadership of the Senate and House Agriculture committees pledged to submit to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (aka the “Super Committee”) a package of at least $23 billion in savings over ten years.  Although it is likely that the draft farm bill prepared last November will be used as a starting point, the budgetary challenges have only become more difficult. 

Whereas nutrition spending essentially appears to be off the table (at least at this stage of the game), there is likely to be calls from members of the House for enhanced spending reductions in commodity title expenditures.  In addition, will the House Budget Committee repeat its call from last year for approximately $33 billion in farm bill spending reductions or will they advocate for a different number?

Although the vast majority of policymakers and veteran farm bill observers expect crop insurance to be the centerpiece of next farm bill safety net, the devil remains in the details.  According to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) memo released earlier this month, numerous proposals have been offered to revise the “farm safety net” for producers of crops covered by farm commodity support programs – including programs designed to support farm income and manage risk.

Proposals have ranged from a simple extension of current farm programs at reduced funding levels to program consolidation and wholesale replacement.  There have, however, been common threads throughout nearly all of the proposals related to the Commodity Title (Title I), including; how price or revenue protection is established, the geographic level at which program benefits are triggered and whether the proposal addresses “shallow losses” – losses not covered by the crop insurance program but, instead, absorbed by the producer via the policy deductible.

Other outstanding issues include whether program benefits should be “re-coupled” (based on current plantings) instead of tied to historical plantings (as is currently the case) and to what extent a revised safety net is applicable to crops outside of traditional program crops.

In addition to the policy, political and budgetary challenges facing the 2012 farm bill there is also the challenge of timing.  Not only will the legislation have to compete with election year politics, it will also have to compete for floor time in the Senate and House of Representatives as leadership in both chambers strive to effectively manage the congressional calendar amongst competing legislative priorities.

Commentary: Renewable Energy

The long-term solution to our energy needs is found in the free market and that government should not favor one form of energy over another.  Instead, the Federal government’s role in developing a domestic renewable energy industry should be limited to providing tax incentives to encourage innovation, exploration and production of all forms of energy. 

Ongoing development of renewable fuels continues to be a core issue for the agriculture sector.  Within the realm of public policy timely, targeted, and temporary incentives are worthy of consideration so that new renewable energy feedstock can be developed, commercialized and allowed to compete on a level playing field with established energy sources.

Virtually every source of energy – from coal to hydroelectric, nuclear to wind, solar and geothermal energy – has been subsidized in its early years.  Taxpayer investments in energy sources that drive our economy help our Nation remain competitive but incentives should help emerging industries to develop and grow, not to be forever subsidized by the Nation’s taxpayers.

Now more than ever, our grain and livestock producers are interconnected as they strive to meet the food, fiber and fuel needs of a growing world population.  As such, it is critically important that the legitimate concerns of livestock producers be taken into account so that the benefits derived from one sector do not result in adverse effects for another.  When both sides strive to seek common ground prospects for success in the policy and political arenas are greatly enhanced.

When considering the role renewable energy plays in national security, policy makers must continue to work for fiscal responsibility while engaging the agriculture sector in balancing forward-looking policies that balance our need for deficit reduction and the development of renewable energy.

LIKE: Seven Rules and 10 Simple Steps for Social Media in Your Campaign

With 90 percent of registered U.S. voters today actively using social media, the millions of likes and dislikes they share every 60 seconds can make or break a candidate’s race. Co-authored by RDL & Associates President Dave Ladd, the rules of LIKE plainly explain how social media has permanently shifted conversations with constituents. Well suited for the individual with little to no social media experience, LIKE outlines the steps and how to get into the habit of using them whether running for the school board, for the United States Senate, or leading inside any organization. LIKE offers commonsense advice on how to engage with a socially-networked democracy, and deliver your message with confidence.

LIKE: Seven Rules and 10 Simple Steps for Social Media in Your Campaign is now available at http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/like-seven-rules-and-10-simple-steps-for-social-media-in-your-campaign-(in-politics-business-or-otherwise)/18817332

Additional Information

 Please send questions and comments to:

Dave Ladd, President

RDL & Associates, LLC

e-mail:     daveladd66@gmail.com

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/dave-ladd/0/b87/11

Twitter:    DaveLadd37

Blog:        https://rdlassociates.wordpress.com/

Copyright © 2012 RDL & Associates, LLC.  All rights reserved.

Three Ways Social Media Will Make or Break 2012 Election Campaigns (via AdAge Digital)

Twitter and Facebook as tools that topple governments? We’d have laughed off that idea a few years ago — but the “Arab Spring” protests prove that social media ignites (and spreads) passion and outrage better than any other communication vehicle. Social media will have a similar game-changing effect on the 2012 elections — in fact, any candidate or issue campaign that expects to succeed needs to make social engagement a critical part of their strategy, or they’re doomed to fail.

Television doesn’t have impact it once commanded. The next occupant of the White House isn’t going to get elected solely because of a brilliant social-media strategy — but without such a strategy, candidates will not be able to enter a dialog with the majority of swing voters.

Social media made some inroads in the 2008 election, with the Obama campaign using Facebook to build volunteer donor networks and activate the base. In three short years, however, social media has evolved so dramatically, and become so pervasive in daily life for most likely voters, that the fledgling tactics deployed in 2008 look positively ancient. Here’s why social media now has the power to make or break campaigns.

The full article can be accessed by visiting  http://adage.com/article/digitalnext/social-media-make-break-2012-election-campaigns/228367/

Note from RDL & Associates:

LIKE: Seven Rules and 10 Simple Steps for Social Media in Your Campaign which deals with this issue in greater depth is currently available at http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/like-seven-rules-and-10-simple-steps-for-social-media-in-your-campaign-(in-politics-business-or-otherwise)/18817332

Senate Agriculture Committee Farm Bill Hearing Schedule

The following hearings regarding the 2012 Farm Bill have been scheduled by the Senate Agriculture Committee.  The first such hearing was held by the committee on February 25th and covered policies related to investments in jobs and opportunities for farmers and rural businesses through new markets, entrepreneurship, regional strategies and energy innovation.

It is expected that the House Agriculture Committee will begin field hearings in March.

Senate Agriculture Committee Hearings:

Tuesday, February 28

Title: Strengthening Conservation through the 2012 Farm Bill

A hearing to explore the Conservation title’s important investment in America – the nation’s fundamental resources of our water, soils and other natural resource infrastructure – through policies that help farmers maintain soil health, keep our water clean and available, our food abundant and safe and our wildlife plentiful so as to protect the basic principles of farming and our way of life for future generations.

Wednesday, March 14

Title: Healthy Food Initiatives, Local Production and Nutrition

A hearing to explore innovative opportunities in agriculture through policies that assist the development of local markets for farmers – connecting them to the growing consumer demand for locally-produced, healthy food options.

Wednesday, March 21

Title: Risk Management and Commodities in the 2012 Farm Bill

A hearing to evaluate the need for and cost effectiveness of risk management tools available to farmers who continue to face increasingly volatile crop prices, input costs and the threat of natural disasters; and how the federal government can provide appropriate risk-management tools while making the best use of limited resources.

Witnesses, times and other specific hearing details to be announced. Senate Agriculture Committee hearings are available for viewing on the Committee website at http://ag.senate.gov.

Change Erodes 1985 Soil Pact (via Politico)

The battered Little Big Man of this year’s farm bill wars could be the soil itself. Or to hear environmentalists tell it: The landmark 1985 treaty to curb erosion is, well, eroding.

That’s the thrust of a report out Monday from the Environmental Working Group that warns early progress reducing soil erosion has stalled and in some states like Iowa, losses have even increased — all in a time of record farm income.

“The gold rush in farm country is putting unprecedented pressure on our soil and water,” is the report’s opening salvo. “Now more than ever, the nation needs a reinvigorated and strengthened conservation compact.”

With a Senate hearing scheduled Tuesday on the same conservation issues, the 25-page report is EWG’s attempt to put down its mark early. And the Washington-based nonprofit wants Congress to reverse a 1996 law and again require farmers to comply with soil conservation rules or lose the premium subsidies so important to insuring their crop revenues.

“That’s the key lever,” Max Schnepf, the report’s author, told POLITICO. “That’s the key to compliance.”

Many in the farm establishment are sure to resist. Just last month, American Farm Bureau delegates voted against linking crop insurance to conservation compliance. And as a rule, producers see crop insurance as a business arrangement with real out-of-pocket costs to them — however much subsidized by taxpayers.

 The full story can be accessed by visiting http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0212/73303.html

Answers Needed Before Moving Forward with Farm Bill (via Farm Futures)

As lawmakers on both the Senate and House Agriculture Committees look for budgetary and policy answers in preparation for the possibility of writing a new farm bill this year there are many unanswered questions. House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., says his first concern is how much money will be available.

“Is it a going to be a $23 billion reduction that Senator Stabenow and I agreed to, or the $32 or $33 billion number that the President talked about in his budget proposal, and what will Mr. Ryan of the House Budget Committee throw at us? He had a $40 billion number last time,” Lucas said. “I need a number, I need to know what is available to me, I need leadership to commit to floor time and I think we on the Ag Committee, we’ll try and make something happen.”

This year the committees more than likely will at least start farm bill negotiations with the proposal they put together for last fall’s failed super committee on budget-reduction. National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says the Stabenow-Lucas collaboration was admirable.

“You pretty much have to admit that the two of them at least got together and agreed on something, none of the other committees did that,” Johnson said. “I think the farm bill that emerges is going to bear some similarity to that. I’d be surprised if there aren’t changes, but I don’t know that we’ll know what all the changes are because we still haven’t seen the language.”

Congressman Lucas says ultimately that if you go away from the old direct payment program and go to crop insurance the question then becomes how much crop insurance do you have?

“Do you protect against disasters or do you go so far as to address swings in price,” Lucas said. “And how much money do you have to write those policies with that concept, that’s the real question.”

Lucas says there are groups, especially in the Midwest, who want a big focus on revenue protection from swings in price. For those who live in parts of the country where weather is a big factor though, Lucas says the focus is on protection in that realm first.


Presidential Primary Has GOP Nervous (via Roll Call)

As the volatile Republican primary drags on, party operatives are growing concerned that their presidential nominee could be woefully unprepared to wage a national campaign against President Barack Obama.

Unlike the extended 2008 Democratic primary — during which Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton built experienced, highly organized political operations — only two of the four Republicans still standing, Mitt Romney and Rep. Ron Paul (Texas), have assembled national campaigns capable of pivoting to the general election. And of the two, only the former Massachusetts governor is considered a real contender for the nomination.

Romney has been a weak frontrunner and has demonstrated vulnerabilities that could doom his bid. Most recently, he has been attempting to fight off former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.), who had been considered a major underdog until he became the latest alternative to surge in early February. Whether Romney can defeat Santorum in Arizona and Michigan this week could determine the fate of his campaign heading into Super Tuesday.

The full story can be accessed by visiting http://www.rollcall.com/issues/57_99/Presidential-Primary-Has-GOP-Nervous-212616-1.html?ET=rollcall:e12301:80065042a:&st=email&pos=epol

Book Review: LIKE (Nathan Burgess)


February 24, 2012 | Author
I was recently graced with a review copy LIKE: Seven Rules and 10 Simple Steps for Social Media in Your Campaign by Kelly Groehler with Dave Ladd, Greg Swanholm, and Bass Zanjani.  The book is available as both an e-book, hardcopy and has presences on Facebook and Twitter.  The foreword is available as a free download at the bottom of this post.

This wonderful volume is different than a number of the other social media books out there, in a number of good ways.

To start with – it’s brief.  The authors assume you know the basics of social media and the popular platforms.  Further, they assume, and wisely so, that if you’re reading the book you’ve either a) already realized you need to use the platform, b) are on the fence and need to find out how to truly use it and get value from it, or c) are being pushed into it by a higher power but still need convincing to sell it to your team.  There is certainly some background but it’s mostly for setting up the next step.

So from there we get to hit the ground running with the important part (and one that’s often overlooked in campaign building) – setting appropriate goals, a way to assemble a plan to achieve those goals and how your social strategy is still interconnected with your traditional strategy.

I won’t give away too much of the secret sauce, but it’s a great starting point for actual campaign building – Social Media 201 if you will.

Take a look at the forward as a free download, available here, to get started.

Read more: Book Review: Like | PRBreakfastClub http://prbreakfastclub.com/2012/02/24/book-review-like/#ixzz1nYALE9EM

MN Farm Bureau Federation to Hold Campaign Management Seminar

The Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) will hold a Campaign Management Seminar on March 12-13 in Eagan. The seminar is open to anyone interested in running for local, state or national public office regardless of party or group affiliation. Candidates for public office are encouraged to participate along with their spouses and their campaign managers.

The seminar was developed by American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) with input from political consultants and staff of both political parties. During the two-day event, participants will learn how to: evaluate themselves as a candidate, plan a campaign strategy, raise money, build coalitions, develop a media strategy, use polls and monitor election day activity. A case study and a computer campaign simulation have been developed to assist in the presentation of the seminar so that participants will have a meaningful “hands on” experience to test techniques, tools and methods.

Cody Lyon, AFBF Director of Grassroots/Political Advocacy, will lead this “hands on” program that helps give attendees a winning advantage over other candidates.

Registration deadline is March 1. Contact Susan Duncomb at susan.duncomb@fbmn.org or call 651-768-2151 to register or go to www.fbmn.org for a registration form.

Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation representing farmers, families, food is comprised of 78 local Farm Bureau associations across Minnesota. Members make their views known to political leaders, state government officials, special interest groups and the general public. Programs for young farmers and ranchers develop leadership skills and improve farm management. Promotion and Education Committee members work with programs such as Ag in the Classroom and safety education. Join Farm Bureau today and support our efforts to serve as an advocate for rural Minnesota, www.fbmn.org.



RDL & Associates Announces Availability of Ebook Version of LIKE

The ebook version of LIKE is now available at:


It will also soon be available at iBookstore, Barnesandnoble.com, and Amazon.com.

Please contact Dave Ladd, President of RDL & Associates, with questions or comments.