House Republicans Work to Formulate Farm Bill Plan (via Agri-Pulse)

WASHINGTON, June 26, 2013 – House Republicans gathered today to seek a way forward after the spectacular failure of the five-year farm bill (H.R. 1947) last week.

While no firm plan has been set, the discussion indicates that House Republicans are intently interested in finding a way to get the bill approved this year.

“We had a very lively discussion in conference,” said House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., after the meeting. “We’re having a very lively discussion in leadership. Clearly, we need to get something done. I want to get something done, I think they want to get something done, and I’m still calming down. We’ll get something done.”

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, third-ranking Republican member of the House Agriculture Committee, said – with tongue planted firmly in cheek – that he brought up the farm bill “just gently” during the meeting

“A consensus is forming on the need to find a solution,” King said. “I guess you can call that progress.”

He said he plans to meet with Lucas during the July 4 recess and talk “in depth on this thing and really plan a strategy”

King said he hopes to have the same conversation with ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., over the break.

On the farm bill’s failure, King said, “For some Republicans, it was pretty simple to say ‘I don’t support any subsidy’ and they don’t go on to the next piece of the equation, which is voting ‘no’ on the farm bill supports a lot of subsidy because we reform a lot of subsidy. That realization will start to settle in better.”

Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., said he pushed his proposal, during the meeting, to separate the food stamp provisions from the farm policy provisions into two bills.

“I would vote for both bills,” Stutzman said, noting he will continue to oppose any farm bill that includes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“This is not a conservative or liberal position,” Stutzman said. “It’s just good government.”

Stutzman said he believes about 60 Republicans voted against the bill mainly because they want SNAP removed from the farm bill.

“I have already identified at least a dozen,” he said. “There seems to be populous movement behind it. I didn’t have one person back home telling me I did the wrong thing.”

Removing the SNAP program from the farm bill, however, is a complete non-starter in both chambers of Congress.

“Splitting the bill means not having a bill and that’s least acceptable option,” Lucas said. “Everything else is on the table and we’re working on scenarios. We’ll sort it out.”

Separately, Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., told Agri-Pulse today an agreement was reached about the importance to proceed and work toward a new farm bill, but how to accomplish passage is still up in the air.

“I’ve had conversations with every member of our leadership team, and I know that they all tell me that they want to get a farm bill done,” Noem said. “So we’re going to continue to push on that and get one done. Sooner rather than later would be better for everybody.”

In reaction to three Democrats introducing the Senate farm bill in the House, Noem said she feels more comfortable with the version that came out of the House Agriculture Committee.

“I’m not crazy about the commodity title in the Senate bill, plus it doesn’t have quite the savings and reforms to the food stamp program that our bill did,” Noem said. “I would be much more supportive of our version of the bill. I’m not certain the Senate bill could get the votes on the floor to pass.”

Noem encouraged Lucas and Peterson to include leadership on discussions involving the future of the farm bill.

“I think that the chairman and [Peterson] have worked together very well,” Noem said of the committee’s leadership. “I think they have some agreement, but I think they also need to draw the leadership teams in on that conversation and see where they think most of their members are and craft a bill going from there.”

Commentary: Running the Regulatory Gauntlet (Dave Ladd, President of RDL & Associates)

The far-reaching climate change initiative recently announced by President Barack Obama highlights the power of the executive branch to “go around” their legislative counterparts.  It should also serve as a stark reminder of a broader issue – the regulatory gauntlet that must consistently be navigated by the agricultural sector.

Excessive regulation adds costs and creates uncertainty, with farmers having to endure some of the most stringent environmental regulations on agricultural operations in the world.  Depending on size and location, some producers may be required to comply with regulatory requirements issued from four levels of government – federal, state, county, and sometimes even townships.  In the livestock sector, it is not unheard of for each level of government to have the authority to establish various regulatory and permitting requirements on livestock producers.

Another area that needs review and reform, one that impacts more than agriculture, is the environmental review process.  At the very least we must ensure that government environmental review processes at all levels of government are allowed to proceed concurrently rather than requiring farmers who seek to expand or modernize their operations to go thru a multi-stage permitting process.

The concerns of the agricultural sector regarding excessive regulations are real and ongoing, including new regulations related to air emissions from livestock facilities, dust from both on and off road activities, river sediment and diesel emissions.  Under President Obama’s watch the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has routinely over stated the benefits of several regulations and understated their cost in justifying several new emission standards.  In doing so the OCIA has relied on the “private benefits” of new regulations in their effort to justify their implementation – which is just another way of saying that the government can make better choices than individuals.

Another example of regulatory overreach run amuck is the attempt by the Environmental Protection Agency – via regulations and guidance – to expand its authority in relation to the Clean Water Act beyond the limits approved by Congress.  Although the Clean Water Act clearly limits federal jurisdiction to “navigable” waters of the United States – limits that have twice been reaffirmed by the United States Supreme Court – the Environmental Protection Agency continues to have its sights set on regulatory control over virtually all waters.

In the event they are successful, the Agency would have the authority to regulate any or all waters found within a state – regardless of traditional state prerogatives relating to land use planning and economic growth or how unconnected those waters are to the federal interest.  As noted by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the government’s regulatory authority would be expanded to intrastate waters, including: groundwater, ditches, culverts, pipes, erosional features, farm and stock ponds, and prior converted cropland.

There appears to be little disagreement that environmental regulations must be protective of public health or safety.  They must also be based on available scientific information that has been subject to peer review.  Regulations should be cost-effective, objective, and designed to balance the economic viability of farm operations with protection of natural resources and other community interests.  The regulatory review process must be transparent and regulations must be administered in a practical manner so as to prevent undue hardship for farmers.

In an era of budget challenges, examining the role, scope, and impact of government regulations and requirements at all levels of government must be at the center of our policy discussions.

One option would be to amend current law to modify the regulating agency’s authority, either to restrict an action or to require additional action.  Although this approach is worthy of pursuit, I submit for your consideration that the key to holding government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency accountable is for Congress to exercise it fundamental role of oversight of the executive branch – a role that members of congress have not fully embraced and an authority that has not been fully utilized.

Dave Ladd, President of RDL & Associates, is a frequent guest commentator regarding public policy and the political environment and is a co-author of the book, “LIKE: Seven Rules and 10 Simple Steps for Social Media in Your Campaign”.  His company, RDL & Associates, assists clients in achieving their legislative and policy objectives via strategic communications, message development and interaction with elected officials and their staff.

Copyright © 2013 RDL & Associates, LLC.  All rights reserved.

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RDL & Associates, LLC

e-mail:            daveladd66@gmail.com

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Obama Unveils Climate Change Plan That Goes Around Congress (via The Hill)

President Obama is launching fresh battles over climate change with plans to  curb emissions using executive powers that sidestep Congress — including  controversial rules to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants.

The wide-ranging  plan, which Obama will tout in a speech later Tuesday, also beefs up  federal efforts to help deploy low-carbon and renewable energy, and has programs  to help harden communities against climate-fueled extreme weather.

Internationally, it seeks to knock down  trade barriers to  climate-friendly goods and services; enhance cooperation with India, China and  other big carbon emitters; and curb U.S. support for overseas coal plant  construction, among many other steps.

The plan is designed to get around Congress, where major climate bills have  no political traction. White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday that Obama’s  executive approach “reflects reality.”

But the plan, especially its controversial Environmental Protection Agency    power plant regulations, will nonetheless face big hurdles on and off  Capitol Hill.

This article can be accessed by visiting http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/e2-wire/307507-obama-unveils-climate-plan-that-goes-around-congress#ixzz2XF4UTw4o

As short video outlining the President’s initiative can be accessed by visiting http://thehill.com/video/administration/307517-obama-lays-out-energy-plan

Farm Bill Likely Will Come Back (via Don Davis)

U.S. House agriculture leaders will try, try again to pass a five-year farm bill.

“It’s been four years and we are not going to give up now,” U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson said Thursday after the House defeated on a 234-195 vote a bill setting federal agriculture and nutrition policy for five years.

Peterson, a western Minnesota congressman and the top House agriculture Democrat, said the bill still could pass if brought back to the House minus Republican amendments tacked on Thursday to restrict food stamp payments and change how the federal dairy program operates.

When amendments began to be put onto the bill, Peterson said, he could see Democrats peeling away. He got fewer than half of the 50 Democratic votes he expected for the bill.

“I warned them and they did not listen,” Peterson said about Republicans who control the House.

He said he and House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., crafted a bill, starting when Peterson was agriculture chairman four years ago, designed to get enough votes from members of both parties to pass. But the GOP amendments were not part of the deal.

Peterson said he talked to Lucas after the vote, but “we don’t have any kind of plan at this point. … This thing got kinda out of control with the amendments that kept coming.”

“We are assessing all of our options, but I have no doubt that we will finish our work in the near future and provide the certainty that our farmers, ranchers and rural constituents need,” Lucas said.

Federal farm and nutrition policy was supposed to be updated last year, but it never reached a House vote. Existing policy then was extended a year, and if no new farm bill passed, Peterson predicted another extension will come late this year.

The House bill was written to save $40 billion over its five-year life, nearly twice as much as senators saved in a farm bill they easily passed last week.

The biggest controversy was about food stamps. Democrats argued that no cuts are warranted, while some Republicans wanted deeper cuts than were in the bill. The final factor that defeated the bill, Peterson said, was approval of an amendment that would have allowed states to require food stamp recipients to work.

Food stamp payments would have been cut $20 billion in the next decade.

Politicians were quick to react.

“I’m deeply disappointed the House has once again failed to provide our agricultural producers with the certainty they need to run their businesses by passing a long-term farm bill,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said.

Added Rep. Tim Walz, a Democrat who serves southern Minnesota: “Washington is broken and it’s long past time for folks out here to get things done and stop viewing compromise as a dirty word. This bill wasn’t perfect, but I knew that we could craft a better bill in conference (with senators) if we just got it through the House.”

Doing nothing costs taxpayers and businesses, Walz said.

Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., placed most of the blame for the bill’s loss on Democrats and the White House. President Barack Obama had threatened to veto the bill if it contained deep food stamp cuts.

“House Democrats demonstrated once again their unwillingness to accept necessary reforms to food stamps, even if it means putting every nutrition and agriculture program in jeopardy,” Cramer said.

Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., blamed both sides.

“While a majority of Republicans voted for the bill, there were too many that walked away because it didn’t cut enough, or because it wasn’t perfect enough in some way,” she said Thursday. “And despite the strong bipartisan support this farm bill received a few weeks ago in the Agriculture Committee, only 24 Democrats voted for the bill today, largely because the less than 3 percent cut in food stamps was too much.”

Rep. Betty McCollum, a Democrat serving St. Paul and suburbs to the east, called the bill’s defeat a “victory against a cruel form of extremism, inflicting hunger on the most vulnerable Americans in order to advance a political agenda.”

The bill often turned to insurance programs to replace direct government payments to farmers.

Peterson said a turning point came as Democratic votes disappeared after a 201-135 vote to reject the bill’s new dairy policy.

The bill would have established an insurance program to give dairy farmers payments when the difference between feed and milk prices narrows, and would have required farmers to limit milk production when milk prices fall.

An amendment House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, supported would have kept the insurance part of the bill, but not require farmers to cut production.

Peterson, who wrote the dairy provision, said the version Boehner supported would allow milk price volatility to continue and force taxpayers to pay more to support dairy farmers.

The Peterson plan was voluntary, and farmers could have stayed out of the program and the government would not restrict their production. –

See more at: http://capitolchat.areavoices.com/2013/06/20/farm-bill-likely-will-come-back/#sthash.afRMCox4.dpuf

House Rejects Five-Year Farm Bill; Future Now Unclear (via Agri-Pulse Communications)

The House stunningly rejected today, by a 195-234 vote, its five-year farm bill (H.R. 1947), blowing up  prospects for new long-term agricultural policy any time in the near future.

Voting against the bill were 172 Democrats and 62 Republicans. Supporting the bill were 171 Republicans and 24 Democrats.

After the vote, a congressional aide said House Democrats promised 40 votes for the farm bill. However, the aide said, House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., told Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., “at the very last minute that he could not produce what he promised under pressure from both the White House and House Democratic leadership.”

“Republicans delivered the exact number of votes we had promised, per our very accurate whip count,” the aide said. “Today, good faith bipartisanship is trumped by bad faith politics.”

Before the vote, Lucas, essentially begged other lawmakers to approve the bill despite their distastes in several of its provisions.

“I have tried and I hope you acknowledge that,” Lucas said. “If it fails today, I can’t promise you’ll see another bill this session.”

House Democrats were incensed that the House approved an amendment that would require recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients either have a job or are in job training.

The proposed $20.5 billion cut to SNAP had already angered many Democrats who said the reduction was too deep, and many Republicans who said the cut did not go far enough.

Before rejecting the underlying bill, the House debated and voted on several amendments, including one that would change U.S. dairy policy and one that would preserve current sugar policy.

Over the course of two days, the House considered more than 100 amendments. Now, that is all moot.

The House approved, with a 291-135 vote, an amendment, offered by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., which would strike the Dairy Market Stabilization Program and replace it with a stand-alone margin insurance program for dairy producers.

“The reforms in the amendment will give farmers the necessary tools to manage their risk without requiring them to participate in yet another government program, keeping dairy prices affordable for consumers and businesses,” Goodlatte said. “Furthermore, our amendment, without supply management, would save taxpayers money as certified by [Congressional Budget Office].”

The House turned away an amendment, with a 206-221 vote, offered by Rep. Joseph Pitts, R-Penn., that sought to end U.S. sugar policy. Pitts argued that artificially high price for U.S. sugar has caused many candy manufacturers to move out of the country.

The House rejected, with a 208-217 vote, an amendment from Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., to limit premium crop insurance subsidies to producers with and adjusted gross income of less than $250,000.

Also, the amendment sought to limit per person premium subsidies to $50,000 and caps crop insurance providers’ reimbursement of administrative and operating at $900 million. Further, the amendment would have reduced the guaranteed loan profit from 14 percent to 12 percent.

Notably, the House approved, with a 225-200 vote, an amendment from Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., that would allow higher education institutions to cultivate hemp for agricultural or academic research.

The House also voted on the following amendments:

  • The House rejected, with a 123-297 vote, an amendment from Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., that would have allowed SNAP benefits to be used to purchase personal hygiene items.
  • The House rejected, with a 174-252 vote, an amendment from Rep. John  Carney, D-Del., that would prohibit savings from being returned to federal crop insurance program.
  • The House rejected, with a 208-218 vote, an amendment from Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., that would add shellfish to the list of specialty crops.
  • The House rejected, with a 197-227 vote, an amendment from Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., that would continue the prohibition on a Christmas tree tax.
  • The House approved, with a 343-81vote, an amendment from Rep. Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., that would strike certain olive oil import restrictions.
  • The House rejected, with a 156-268 vote, an amendment from Rep. Tom  McClintock, R-Calif., that would eliminate the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program.
  • The House rejected, with a 79-346 vote, an amendment from Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., that would establish a pilot program using data required to be reported for SNAP.
  • The House rejected, with a 194-230 vote, another Marino amendment that sought repeal Biodiesel Fuel Education Program.
  • The House rejected, with a 206-219 vote, an amendment from Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., that sought to modify Forest Legacy Program on conservation easements with program revenue.
  • The House rejected, with a narrow 211-215 vote, an amendment from John Tierney, D-Mass., that would permit commercial fishermen to apply for emergency disaster loans.
  • The House rejected, with a 194-232 vote, an amendment from Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., that sought to strike the Health Food Financing Initiative on a 194-232     vote.

Effort to protect California egg law in House farm bill fails (via the Los Angeles Times)

Congress to California: Here’s bit of egg on your face.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers failed to kill a provision in the farm bill that blocks California from requiring that eggs imported into the state come from hens who have enough room to spread their wings.

The measure in the farm bill now before the House would prohibit one state from imposing conditions on another state’s production of agricultural goods. The prohibition was sought by Rep. Steve King, a Republican from Iowa, the biggest egg-producing state, who contends that California has exceeded its authority and interfered with Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                A group of lawmakers, led by Rep. Jeff Denham, a Republican from California’s agriculture-producing Central Valley, sought a vote by the full House to remove the prohibition and substitute national standards for hen housing.

But the Republican-led House Rules Committee late Tuesday rejected his request on a largely party-line 7-3 vote.  Committee Chairman Pete Session (R-Texas) said the issue had been considered at length by the House Agriculture Committee.

The decision infuriated Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, who called for defeat of the House farm bill.  Accusing the beef and pork lobbies of working to block a vote on national standards, he wrote on his blog, “Maybe we would listen to these people if cows and pigs laid eggs, but they do not.”

National standards for treatment of hens have been endorsed by the industry group United Egg Producers, which contends that it would help farmers deal with a  patchwork of state animal welfare laws. But the idea has drawn opposition from the beef and pork industries and other farm groups, which say it could lead to greater federal regulation of agriculture.

The King prohibition could run into trouble during House-Senate negotiations on a final farm bill.  Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) signed onto a bill by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to establish national standards for the treatment of hens.

Critics of King’s measure have warned that it could nullify more than 150 state laws around the country, many of them dealing with animal welfare. They also say it would hurt California by forcing its egg farmers, but not their out-of-state competitors, to comply with voter-approved rules for more humane treatment of hens.

“Our egg industry could be in a position where we may go out of business,’’  Denham warned Wednesday.

California voters in 2008 approved Proposition 2, requiring state chicken farmers to give egg-laying birds enough room to stand and spread their wings. State legislation passed two years later added a requirement that, when the initiative takes effect in 2015, eggs sold in the state come from farms that meet the California standards.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-egg-farm-bill-california-20130619,0,877175.story

Client Spotlight: Minority Liberty Alliance

The vision of the Minority Liberty Alliance is to become a national movement that will foster changes that matter to all minority communities. The Alliance does so by educating, training, organizing and empowering individuals to lead in their local communities via the building of dynamic conservative coalitions that reach across the state and nation.

The Minority Liberty Alliance invests in people as leaders – training them to take bold risks to stand up for the principles in which they believe, as well as mobilizing others who share the vision of engagement by minorities in principled policy leadership.  By taking action through aggressive and compassionate outreach to minority communities, the Alliance is able encourage engagement in policy discussions that promote individual liberty and free market principles.

The Minority Liberty Alliance enhances the power and influence of local minority communities by breaking down economic, social and cultural barriers, thereby creating new opportunities for individual leadership.  By building relationships of trust with individuals and organizations from various communities the Alliance is able to promote individual liberty, the building of strong small businesses through understanding the value of free market principles, the value of educational choice, and the unrestricted opportunities provided by limited government influence.

 

The Minority Liberty Alliance mobilizes minority community leaders and individuals toward a greater understanding of founding principles that promote individual freedom, liberty and opportunity – including:

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List: House Farm Bill Amendments

The House Committee on Rules has adopted by voice vote the rule for general debate regarding the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk  Management Act (H.R. 1947.  Of the 230 amendments that had been submitted for consideration, 103 have been ruled “in order” when the full House begins consideration of the bill later today (6/19/2013).

A final vote on the overall bill is likely to occur the week of June 24th.

The rule adopted by the House Committee on Rules can be accessed by visiting http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-113hres271rh/pdf/BILLS-113hres271rh.pdf.

A list of amendments can be accessed by visiting http://rules.house.gov/bill/hr-1947.  Those amendments listed as “Made in Order” under the status column will have ten minutes of debate (equally divided) once the House begins working through the list.

Please contact Dave Ladd, President of RDL & Associates at daveladd66@gmail.com with questions regarding the legislative process.

Farm Bill Likely to Spill Into Next Week (via Politico)

Republicans signaled late Tuesday that the House farm bill debate is likely  to spill into next week as the leadership copes with scores of amendment  requests and unrelated changes in the floor schedule.

Shortly before midnight, the House Rules Committee approved a resolution  making in order more than 100 amendments. Most will have just 10 minutes for  debate, but as a practical matter, the leadership would have to show a lot more  flexibility about the floor schedule to finish the farm bill this week.

The sudden shift upset top members of the House Agriculture  Committee, fearful of leaving the giant bill exposed over the weekend. But  Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told POLITICO he was confident still of  winning passage.

“I try to stay in the lanes, so ask Eric that question,” McCarthy said,  sending a reporter back to Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s office. “But I don’t  think it changes the outcome.”

General farm bill debate opened Tuesday afternoon, and Agriculture Committee  Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) had envisioned beginning amendments as early as  10 a.m. Wednesday and working well into the night. He knew he faced a 3 p.m.  deadline Thursday, the time at which House members had been promised they can  leave for the weekend. But Lucas and his ranking Democrat, Minnesota Rep. Collin  Peterson, felt the task was doable.

Late Tuesday, Lucas was told that because of other scheduling considerations,  the farm bill will not be back up until about 2:30 Wednesday afternoon. This leaves a  very narrow window to make any progress since Cantor was pushing back against  allowing votes after 7 p.m. Wednesday according to a GOP aide.

On top of that, the sheer number of amendments was straining resources at the  Congressional Budget Office to come up scores on their spending impact.

“I don’t know if I would let it hang out there over the weekend,” laughed  Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), who helped shepherd the last farm bill through the  House in 2007 and 2008.

“Between sugar and dairy, anything can happen,” he told POLITICO. “Milk and  honey. Milk and honey.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/06/farm-bill-spill-into-next-week-93025.html#ixzz2WfXfN43I