House and Senate Release FY2014 Proposed Budgets
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) released his budget proposal this past Tuesday calling for cuts to farm programs by $31 billion over the next 10 years, but leaves it up to the House Agriculture Committee to decide how to make the needed cuts. This is a big change from the House’s budget resolution last year, which specifically targeted crop insurance for reduction. The Ryan budget was written in order to balance the budget in 10 years, and was passed by the committee late Wednesday night with a party line vote of 22-17. The budget is expected to come to the House floor for a vote sometime next week.
Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) also released the Senate budget plan this week, and would provide the Senate Agriculture Committee with flexibility to write a five-year farm bill. The budget would assume $23 billion in savings by reforming agriculture programs. The committee is on day two of their markup and hopes to pass the budget through the committee by the end of the week. The Administration on the other hand has yet to release their FY2014 budget and is set to do so on April 8.
To read House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas’ (R-Okla.) statement on the House budget proposal go to: http://agriculture.house.gov/press-release/lucas-statement-ryans-proposed-budget-plan-1
House and Senate Work to Avoid Government Shutdown
On March 6 the House of Representatives approved a six-month stopgap spending bill, referred to as a continuing resolution (CR), which will fund the government through Sep. 30. The House’s CR leaves the sequestration cuts in place, but shifts billions of dollars to military operations. Senate Democrats are working on their own package that will significantly alter the legislation passed out of the House. The Senate’s package would give the Obama administration greater flexibility to carry out the sequestration cuts and would include additional appropriations bills for the Departments of Commerce, Justice, Agriculture and Homeland Security. The Senate has yet to set a date for a vote on their sequestration plan, but both chambers are hopeful they can come to a compromise to avoid a government shutdown by March 27.
Obama Taps Ernest Moniz to be New Energy Secretary Nominee
President Obama has nominated physicist Ernest J. Moniz to become the next Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE). While some environmental advocates have given the Moniz nomination a lukewarm reception, he is widely seen by many to embrace President Obama’s “all of the above” energy strategy. Some of the environmental opposition may stem from the fact that as undersecretary at DOE in the Clinton Administration, Moniz was an advocate for using hydraulic fracturing to exploit previously inaccessible oil and natural gas reserves.
To read the full press release go to: http://www.nationofchange.org/ernest-moniz-nominated-secretary-energy-1362674316
FAPRI Releases New Baseline Market Projections
Last Friday, the Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri released new baseline market projections. FAPRI reported that unlike corn and soybeans, U.S. wheat yields were near record levels in 2012 but that continued drought in the Plains raises questions about the 2013 wheat yield prospects. According to the FAPRI reports the baseline assumes average wheat yields are slightly below trend for 2013.
To read FAPRI’s press release on the report go to: http://extension.missouri.edu/news/DisplayStory.aspx?N=1744
For the full FAPRI report go to: http://www.fapri.missouri.edu/outreach/publications/2013/FAPRI_MU_Report_01_13.pdf
Baucus and Hatch Introduce Legislation to Extend Conservation Easement Tax Breaks
Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) introduced a bipartisan tax bill on Tuesday, The Rural Heritage Conservation Extension Act of 2013, makes the enhanced tax incentive for conservation permanent. The bill benefits farmers by allowing them to deduct up to 100 percent of their adjusted gross income for donations towards conservation easements.
To read the full Rural Heritage Conservation Extension Act of 2013 go to: http://www.finance.senate.gov/legislation/details/?id=b9d8428a-5056-a032-5219-33d85d08d0ad
Recent Rains Subside Drought Pressures on Spring Planting
March rains have come right in time for the rapid growth stage of winter wheat, and also have begun to prepare the soil for spring plantings. Meteorologist Joel Widenor said that, “two inches of rain were expected in the drought areas of the Northern Plains and upper Midwest next week.” Although these rains have begun to alleviate pressures from the record drought, the weather will need to persist through April and May in order to bring the winter wheat to maturity.
NWIC Research Fly-In Approaching on April 10-11
Wheat farmers, researchers and industry partners will be in Washington, D.C. next month for the annual Wheat Research Fly-In. The event is an opportunity to educate stakeholders on Capitol Hill and at USDA about the importance of wheat research projects around the country. It also emphasizes the need for consistent, adequate funding even in tough budget times. This event is planned in collaboration with NAWG, the National Wheat Improvement Committee, North American Millers’ Association and the American Bakers’ Association.