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June 2013 Archive for PFA Pioneer Blog

RSS By: Chip Flory, Pro Farmer

This is a private blog for Pioneer.

Ag leaders about to lose control of farm bill

Jun 28, 2013

Pro Farmer Extra

- From the Editors of Pro Farmer newsletter -

June 21, 2013

House ag leaders about to lose control of the farm bill

House GOP leaders want a farm bill passed by the August recess — and with enough votes (218) by Republicans only to send it to a conference committee with the Senate.

Unknown is if GOP leaders will split the bill in two: farm policy and a separate bill on nutrition programs (food stamps/SNAP). Surprisingly, this approach is gaining momentum. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) supports carving the nutrition title out of the farm bill; House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Ok.) does not support splitting the bill and is concerned if this approach is taken, neither bill would pass the House.

And there is uncertainty about what would happen in the conference committee with the Senate on the legislation. It would be a three-way topic meld: The Senate farm bill (that includes farm programs and nutrition) attempting to meld with the House's farm program bill and a separate nutrition bill. That sounds messy.

Whatever happens to the House farm bill on that chamber’s floor, the final results (a bill or a very modified farm bill extension) will be worked out among congressional leaders — Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Reps. Boehner and Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Because the leaders of both chambers are taking over the bill, the Senate and House ag leadership won't have much of a say in how the final bill looks, performs and is funded.

If House leaders go with a split approach in coming debates, they'll debate the farm program bill first, and the nutrition program second. If both bills pass the House and an agreement can’t be reached in conference, look for some high-stakes politics. An effort would be made to modify permanent legislation when it comes to dairy in a must-pass, end-of-year bill. If a farm bill conference cannot be reached, then an extension of current policy and a phaseout of direct payments are likely.


Follow Pro Farmer Editor Chip Flory on Twitter: @ChipFlory

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Next steps for House farm bill?

Jun 21, 2013

Pro Farmer Extra

- From the Editors of Pro Farmer newsletter -

June 21, 2013

Next step for the farm bill? The outlook is murky —


While unlikely, the chief Republican vote-counter, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), says the bill could come back to the floor this week. He says, “We can correct it if [Democrats] are not going to help us.”

House Ag Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) says he will make another attempt to move a farm bill but did not know when or under what circumstance.


Some say it could take several months for GOP leaders to take over and construct a package that could garner the needed 218 votes for passage. If Lucas constructs a truly partisan farm bill that will get the support of at least 218 of the 234 House Republicans, we’ll see if Pelosi continues to call GOP leadership “amateurs.”

GOP leaders do not want another extension of the 2008 Farm Bill, even though this is what most observers predict. Peterson says he thinks the bill can be salvaged, but added, “Without a bill, we’ll end up with an extension. There is no way we are going back to permanent law.”

Follow Pro Farmer Editor Chip Flory on Twitter: @ChipFlory

To see more of what Pro Farmer has to offer, be sure to visit

House is ready to take up its farm bill

Jun 14, 2013

Pro Farmer Extra

- From the Editors of Pro Farmer newsletter -

June 14, 2013

House ready to take up its version of the farm bill

Midwest commodity groups are urging support of an amendment to the House version of the farm bill that will be taken up in the week ahead. Here's a letter sent to Representatives earlier this week.

Dear Representative,

The undersigned national farm organizations would like to express strong support for timely consideration by the House of Representatives of H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management ("FARRM") Act. With current program authorities due to expire at the end of September, it is critical that the House pass its version of the farm bill and send it to Conference, where differences can be resolved with recently-passed Senate legislation. Farmers, ranchers, and others who depend on these programs need long-term certainty which only a new five-year bill can provide. In addition, both bills make significant contributions to reducing federal budget deficits.

Our organizations support many of the programs included in HR 1947, as reported by the Committee on Agriculture. The bill would consolidate conservation programs, reauthorize and fund agricultural research, energy, and export promotion programs, and make improvements in federal crop insurance. We strongly support these provisions, and ask that you oppose any amendments which would eliminate or weaken them.

We are very concerned, however, with the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program option included in the Commodities Title of the Committee bill. The PLC program would set high, fixed reference prices for program crops which, in some cases, exceed their historical prices and cost of production. It ties payments to producers to crops they grow in the current year, which could distort planting decisions and production if market prices fall below their support levels.

Since the 1996 Farm Bill ("Freedom to Farm"), farm policy has provided planting flexibility, encouraging producers to respond to market signals in making their planting decisions rather than to the prospect of receiving government payments. We do not want to see policies return to the era of high supports tied to current-year plantings, which distorted crop production in the 1980’s. The PLC program in the Committee bill should be modified to make it responsive to the market rather than the government.

We understand Representative Gibbs may offer an amendment to set reference prices at a percentage of recent average market prices, which do not exceed production costs. The Gibbs amendment would also provide for payments on historical crop acreage bases rather than on current-year plantings. These changes would make the PLC program more market-oriented and significantly reduce the risk of distorting planting decisions and production. They would also reduce the likelihood of the program violating U.S. commitments under the WTO. Moreover, they would achieve an estimated $10 billion in savings in addition to the Committee bill.

We respectfully request your support for the Gibbs amendment during House consideration of H.R. 1947. Again, we urge you to support final passage of this legislation so Congress can complete a new farm bill this year.

Sincerely yours,

American Soybean Association
National Corn Growers Association
National Sunflower Association
U.S. Canola Association

Reaction to the support for the Gibbs amendment was abrupt and, in some cases, severe. One analyst told Pro Farmer, "This is a big mistake by these groups. This is exactly why we are having trouble getting votes for final passage. These groups aren’t working the bill—they are working the amendment. We aren’t going to have a farm bill—and the revenue plan they want—if ag continues to form its firing line in a circle. These groups and their lobbyists can’t see the forest for the trees...."

For the entire bill, support appears to be lining up for passage. First, Nancy Pelosi says she won't fight the bill. That doesn't mean she's going to vote for it, but at least she won't fight it. Speaker John Boehner says he's planning to vote "yes" on the bill. That should bring some additional GOP support to it, as well. And Friday, Pro Farmer learned, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor confirmed plans to pass the House farm bill (HR 1947) the week of June 17 and offered a positive, assessment of the legislation, saying it contained "strong reforms."

Follow Pro Farmer Editor Chip Flory on Twitter: @ChipFlory

To see more of what Pro Farmer has to offer, be sure to visit

Senate will pass its farm bill Monday

Jun 07, 2013

Pro Farmer Extra

- From the Editors of Pro Farmer newsletter -

June 7, 2013

Senate to pass farm bill Monday


The Senate Thursday evoked cloture on farm bill debate. That doesn't pass the bill, but it does limit upcoming debate and most importantly limits the number of amendments that will be considered. The reason that's so important is because as many as 240 amendments had been filed. Now it's up to Senate Ag Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) to determine which amendments will be considered before the full floor vote is taken.


Which amendments will be considered is not yet clear, but we do know which amendments won't be considered and Stabenow has decided that all EPA-related amendments to the 2013 farm bill are non-germane. That means there will be no amendments considered that may have altered the renewable fuels standard (RFS), including the ethanol-use mandate.


A vote on the final farm bill package is expected at 4:30 p.m. CT on June 10. The vote will follow an anticipated 30 minutes of floor debate. The bill is expected to easily pass.


Just because there won't be any EPA-related amendments to the Senate farm bill, that doesn't mean the RFS discussion is over. At a House hearing this week, it became abundantly clear that EPA and even lawmakers now understand the mandated corn-based ethanol use in the RFS will be nearly impossible to hit using E10 -- the country simply doesn't use enough fuel to reach the mandated levels at a 10% ethanol blend. Making the situation more dicey is the fact that RIN availability will be exceptionally tight by the time we get to 2014.


RFS supporters' answer to the blend wall problem is to use E15, but carmakers and retailers are incredibly stubborn on E15 even after EPA cleared the 15% ethanol blend for use in cars and light trucks manufactured after 2001.


RFS opposers' answer is to modify the mandated usage levels to continue with E10. EPA is expected to issue final 2013 ethanol-use mandates and preliminary 2014 mandates by late this summer.

Follow Pro Farmer Editor Chip Flory on Twitter: @ChipFlory

To see more of what Pro Farmer has to offer, be sure to visit

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