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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News as heard inside the BARN for January 17th…

Posted by Brian Allmer on January 17, 2013

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Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

“NFU President Highlights Importance of Crop Insurance, Support for Limits”

Following new criticism that federal crop insurance programs primarily benefit insurance companies and large farmers – National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson defended the importance of crop insurance. He called it vitally important for farm policy to include programs for farmers and ranchers to manage their risks of bad yields and low incomes – and said the current system does a good job of that. According to Johnson – while last summer’s drought was devastating – the damage wasn’t as catastrophic as it was in other bad years. He said that’s largely because the crop insurance system provided a vitally necessary backstop. But Johnson also said crop insurance – particularly revenue protections – should not be considered a replacement for fair market prices.

Johnson said NFU believes crop insurance subsidies should be targeted to family-sized farmers. He noted NFU has supported reasonable limits on the amount of crop insurance premium subsides farmers can receive. During the Senate’s 2012 Farm Bill debate – NFU supported an amendment that would have reduced premium subsidies by 15-percent for farms with adjusted gross incomes greater than 750-thousand dollars. Johnson added that NFU policy also supports a limit of 75-thousand dollars worth of crop insurance premium subsidies that one farmer can receive in a year.

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“Farm Bureau Delegates Set Course for 2013”

During the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 94th annual meeting – voting delegates expressed support for a bipartisan, reform-minded farm bill – crafted around a broad, flexible crop insurance-based program that includes risk-management protection for peanuts, rice, forage and specialty crops. Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman says the group will push hard for a five-year farm bill that provides certainty for farmers and extends much-needed risk management tools across more acres and more crops. Farm Bureau delegates said they will also work for programs that provide emergency assistance for livestock and tree producers not covered by federal crop insurance programs. In addition – delegates reaffirmed policy supporting changes to the dairy safety net – consistent with the margin insurance programs included in the farm bill versions approved by the House and Senate Ag Committees.

On another dairy issue – Farm Bureau reports its delegates approved a new policy that states only pasteurized milk and milk products should be sold for human consumption. In the area of national fiscal policy – delegates reaffirmed the importance of a sound budget process with a priority on spending restraints rather than tax increases. There was also a vote of support for streamlining or replacing the H-2A seasonal and temporary agricultural worker program – in addition to allowing experienced, undocumented agricultural workers to adjust to legal status. According to Stallman – only comprehensive immigration reform through legislation can solve the agricultural worker problem.

On regulatory policy – Farm Bureau delegates said all federal agencies shall be held to the strictest interpretation of law when setting regulations and that no federal agency shall be allowed to legislate through their regulatory power. They went on to say that no regulatory action should be taken against landowners based on satellite or aerial imagery.

More than 360 voting delegates – representing every crop and livestock sector in the 50 states and Puerto Rico – deliberated on policies affecting the productivity and profitability of farmers and ranchers at the AFBF annual meeting. The policies they approved will guide the organization in its legislative and regulatory efforts throughout 2013.

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“Growth Energy CEO Responds to API Attack on Renewable Fuels”

The American Petroleum Institute is launching an advertising campaign that will focus on repealing the Renewable Fuel Standard. In response to the news – Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis said the lengths to which Big Oil will go to protect their lock on the fuels market are astounding. He said they often pay lip service to the importance of renewable fuel for our country’s energy needs – but work to undermine them at every turn. Buis stressed that biofuels have helped reduce our dependence on foreign oil and created a robust domestic renewable fuels industry.

According to Buis – API recently discussed how the RFS was broken. They cited the blend wall as the primary challenge in a workable RFS. But Buis said Big Oil is protecting the blend wall – maintaining it – by erecting every possible barrier to bringing increased blends of renewable fuel to the marketplace. While they call for a free market – Buis said they are singlehandedly denying consumers a choice and savings at the pump by preventing a lower cost, high performance alternative like E15.

But Buis said the American people won’t tolerate the continued misinformation and smear tactics on biofuels and the selfish policies of an industry that has been receiving government subsidies for nearly a century while making record profits. He said Big Oil is entitled to an opinion – but is not entitled to distort the facts. The renewable fuel industry – he said – will prevail on the facts. The facts that biofuels are creating jobs here at home that can’t be outsourced, revitalizing rural economies across the country and improving our environment – all while reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

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“USDA Funds Added to Sandy Package in House”

Late Tuesday evening the U.S. House approved a disaster assistance measure to help those states dealing with the impacts of Hurricane Sandy. H.R. 152 passed on a 241 to 180 vote. Through an amendment offered by New Jersey Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen – the bill provides more than 222-million dollars to USDA. The amendment garnered 228 “yea” votes – the majority coming from Democrats. The legislation will be considered by the Senate next week.

A summary of the amendment shows that 218-million dollars will go to emergency conservation and restoration efforts – as well as flood prevention and watershed repairs. The breakdown is 180-million for the Emergency Watershed Protection Program – 23-million for the Emergency Forest Restoration Program and 15-million available under the Agriculture Credit Act of 1978. The other 4.4-million is provided for capital improvement and maintenance for necessary expenses related to the consequences of Hurricane Sandy.

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“Rain and Rock Removal Helping Water Levels on Mississippi River”

Heavy rains over the weekend were a difference maker for Mississippi River shippers. That’s according to Midwest Grain and Barge Vice President and General Manager Matt Zimmerman. He says the rain was widespread and delivered more moisture than expected. As such – water levels near Cape Girardeau, Missouri were on the rise. In addition to the rain – the Army Corps of Engineers finished the first phase of the rock removal project at Thebes, Illinois earlier than expected. The Corps removed 365 cubic yards of limestone from the channel – deepening the navigable area by two-feet. Commander of the Army Corps’ Mississippi Valley Division Major General John Peabody says the success of the rock removal work – along with the recent and forecast rain – increases confidence an adequate channel can be sustained through the spring. According to the National Weather Service – the water level of the river at St. Louis today (Thursday) will be up nearly two-feet from last Wednesday. That will equal the highest level in almost a month. At Thebes – the water level had jumped nearly nine-feet over the weekend.

 

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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