A few weeks ago, the Iowa Corn Growers Association requested that Gov. Branstad grant a 2013 harvest weight proclamation beginning mid-September. ICGA asked that the governor consider a 90-day harvest weight exemption due to the late spring planting and growing season this year. Also due to late planting this year, the harvest weight proclamation may need to start later than normal to accommodate the expected later harvest. The governor and his staff have been very supportive of agriculture, and they are working on this issue, says Mindy Larsen Poldberg, director of government relations for ICGA.
"ICGA has received several calls from our members this week, inquiring as to the status," she adds. "We want to report that while the final decision has not been made, nor have the details been finalized, we expect to have an official announcement to you within a week or two. Watch your email and listen for news reports, as we will convey this information to you, as soon as it is released by the governor."
What will happen with negotiation on a new farm bill in Washington, D.C.?
Another question ICGA staff has been hearing from its members -- will the current farm bill be extended? Will we get a new farm bill? The current legislation is due to expire at the end of this month. Here's what ICGA's Mindy Larsen Poldberg reports as she sizes up the current situation:
Congress was back in Washington D.C. last week after the August recess. There aren't many days left on the legislative calendar before the current farm bill is set to expire on September 30. Congress left for the August recess after the House and Senate each passed their own version of a farm bill without coming to a consensus. Fiscal year 2014 appropriations for the USDA also await Congressional approval.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
A three-month continuing resolution will likely be approved by Congress before September 30 to continue funding federal government programs until the end of 2013. Even with a delay in a Syria vote, it is predicted that Congress will be consumed with another debt-ceiling debate as well as the continuing resolution, so progress on passing a new farm bill before September 30 is unlikely. The Iowa Corn Growers Association has encouraged and will continue to work on the passage of a new farm bill. It is unclear how Congress will address a short term extension at this time.
Water Resources and Reform Development Act legislation is introduced
On Wednesday, September 11, the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee released its committee version of a new Water Resources and Reform Development Act, or WRRDA. The committee will consider this bipartisan legislation in a markup scheduled for September 19. The legislation doesn't include any earmarks and requires that all feasibility studies must be completed in three years and cost no more than $3 million. This initiative was developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and this bill would codify that. In addition it decreases the amount of Inland Waterways Trust Fund support for the Olmstead Lock and Dam to 25% of the total cost.
EPA to begin enforcement of federal Spill Prevention Control rules
On September 23, 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will begin enforcement of the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure, or SPCC, rules regarding oil and fuel storage on farms. The rules went into effect on May 10, 2013 and EPA is indicating it will retroactively enforce the rules back to that date when the Congressional implementation delay is lifted September 23.
DNR establishes conditions for Army Corps on Missouri River management
On Tuesday, September 10, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, or DNR, announced a conditional certification for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' proposed project at the Little Sioux Bend segment of the Missouri River. The DNR's certification upholds the State of Iowa's flood control and nutrient reduction principles, and the Army Corps must meet the principles before proceeding on the Shallow Water Habitat, or SWH, project.~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
Iowa Corn Growers Association appreciates the DNR's consideration of the impact of this project on the state's nutrient reduction efforts, says Poldberg. The original project proposals were counterproductive to farmers' environmental efforts as they would have dumped large quantities of soil into the Missouri River while the Environmental Protection Agency demands that Iowa farmers reduce the amount of soil going into the river. Iowa DNR Director Chuck Gipp stated, "The outlined conditions take common sense steps to reinforce the State of Iowa's flood control focus in the management of the Missouri River. In addition, the outlined methodology changes the status quo approach to SWH projects and requires concrete steps to reduce the amount of nutrients introduced to the Missouri River."
October 4 is deadline for Conservation Program signup for EQIP, WRP
The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service encourages Iowa farmers and landowners to visit their local USDA office by October 4 in order to be considered for the first round of conservation program funding. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or EQIP, and the Wetlands Reserve Program, or WRP, are available for signup.