September 21 was the last day Congress was scheduled to be in session until after the November elections. So the Senators and Representatives departed Washington D.C. and headed home to campaign, without passing a new five-year farm bill or an extension of the current law. However, USDA programs do not automatically end on September 30. Mindy Larson Poldberg, director of government relations for the Iowa Corn Growers Association, provides the following explanation.
Most of the commodity programs expire at the end of the 2012 crop year which for most crops is late in 2013. However, the deadline for effective dairy support is January 1, 2013. The federal crop insurance program would not be impacted because it is currently authorized by the Federal Crop Insurance Act and does not need to be reauthorized under the farm bill.
A recent Congressional Research Service report states that, "for many conservation programs, program authority is often permanent but the authority to receive mandatory funding expires at the end of FY2012. Without an extension of mandatory funding, new contracts or agreements likely could not be approved. But all existing contracts and agreements (including long-term easements) would stay in force." So Conservation Reserve Program contracts would remain in place, but no new contracts could be signed.
ICGA supports passage of a new five-year farm bill and will continue pushing for it
What about the CSP? Mandatory funding authority for the Conservation Stewardship Program does not expire until 2014. Technically, funding for this program could still be available until that time, but the Continuing Resolution (CR), that will be passed by Congress this week, effectively prevents new enrollments in the CSP, along with the Wetlands Reserve Program, Grasslands Reserve Program and the Chesapeake Bay Conservation Program. The food stamp program (SNAP) will expire on September 30. However, appropriators have allowed the program to continue to pay benefits through early next year because funds were appropriated in the CR for SNAP.
~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~Iowa Corn Growers Association supports passage of a new five-year farm bill and will continue to work with legislators during the lame duck session to accomplish this goal. Following is an update on other news that affects Iowa farmers, as provided by ICGA.
* Update on Farm Bill discharge petition: Last week, the Iowa Corn Growers Association initiated a call to action asking our members to contact Congressman Tom Latham (IA-4) and Congressman Steve King (IA-3) to request they sign the farm bill discharge petition. Congressman Bruce Braley (IA-1) introduced a bipartisan discharge petition requiring 218 signatures which if achieved, would move the farm bill to the floor.
On Wednesday, September 19, Congressman Latham signed onto the petition, after many Iowa Corn grower calls were made to his office. To see a complete list of all members who have signed the petition so far, click here. Members will be able to sign the petition until the last day of this Congress, and another effort to garner support from Congressman King may occur at a later date. Thanks to everyone who made calls to these two offices. If you would like to call Congressman Latham to thank him, his office can be reached at 202-225-5476.
* USDA crop report release time to move to noon: USDA announced September 19 that it will release its supply and demand reports at 12 p.m. beginning January 1, 2013. Livestock reports will continue to be released at 3 p.m. "The shift to a noon release allows for the greatest liquidity in the markets, provides the greatest access to the reports during working hours in the United States, and continues equal access to data among all parties," said USDA chief economist Joe Glauber.
* EPC to evaluate ban on applying liquid manure to soybeans. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) will make a decision on whether to ban the application of liquid manure to soybean ground at the EPC's October 16 meeting. At the meeting, scientists from Iowa State University will present research on the effects of applying liquid manure to soybeans.
~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~Recent research suggests liquid manure application to soybeans should not be banned across all conditions. The application rate should supply needed phosphorus or potassium, while limiting total nitrogen application to avoid water quality impairment. The October 16 meeting will be held at 7900 Hickman Road in Windsor Heights, and public comments will be taken at 10:30 a.m. Comments can also be emailed to [email protected].
* Corn growers join "No on Proposition 37" campaign: On September 17 the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) joined various organizations in opposition to California's Proposition 37. Proposition 37 is a proposal that Californians will vote on in the upcoming general election. If it becomes law it would require that genetically engineered foods sold at retail in California be labeled in a way that clearly identifies them as being genetically engineered. Specifically, the measure requires that raw agricultural commodities produced entirely or in part through genetic engineering be labeled with the words "Genetically Engineered" on the front package or label.
The measure also requires that processed foods produced entirely or in part through genetic engineering be labeled with the words "Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering" or "May be Partially Produced with Genetic Engineering." However, certain foods such as alcoholic beverages, organic foods, and restaurant food and other prepared foods intended for immediate consumption would be exempted.
Currently, NCGA supports the Food and Drug Administration's efforts to provide guidance for voluntary labeling that indicates whether goods have or have not been developed using biotechnology. Proposition 37, if it is passed in the upcoming election, would exceed NCGA policy by forcing mandatory labeling regulations for genetically engineered products. For more information about the "No on 37" campaign, click here.