Senate Passes FY04 Omnibus Spending Bill

Friday, January 23, 2004                     By Shawn Wade

      The 108th Congressreturned for its second session January 20 with a number of unfinished, butfamiliar issues lying on the table.

      One of the first items ofbusiness in the Senate was the FY04 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. Early in theweek Senate Democrats were successful in continuing to delay a final vote onthe measure, but that all crumbled Thursday as GOP senators convinced enoughDemocrats to drop their opposition and allow the bill to finally come up for avote.

      Passage was quickly securedon a 65-28 vote and finalized appropriations for agriculture, veterans andother domestic programs.

      The Omnibus AppropriationsBill contains funding authority for eleven Cabinet level agencies, and totals$820 billion, $326 billion of which is discretionary spending.

      The House of Representativespassed the Omnibus spending measure last December.

      Agriculture spending approvedin the bill totaled $80.6 billion, $16.9 billion of which is discretionaryfunding. Agriculture funding for FY04 is down approximately $1 billion fromFY03 spending levels.

      FY04 farm programs werefunded at $26.8 billion, up from $25.5 billion in FY03. The majority of theincrease is earmarked for the Commodity Credit Corporation to replenish fundsused for drought assistance.

      Overall conservation programspending was upped $12 million by the bill and totaled $1 billion. Other cottonrelated spending items approved were Boll Weevil Eradication Program funding of$52 million; Pink Boll Worm program funds totaling $2.0 million; andEnvironmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funding approved at $975million. The FY04 EQIP funding level is $25 million less than authorized in the2002 Farm Bill.

      Under the measure funding was also authorized for several High Plains research programs. Under the measure the Cotton Research Center at Texas Tech will receive $2,352,500, the Ogallala Aquifer Water Conservation Lab will receive $1,595,520, the USDA Plant Stress Lab will receive $1,595,520, and the Texas Tech Center for Food Excellence will receive $221,648.

 

USDA Announces Review Of Biotech Rules

Friday, January 23, 2004                     By Shawn Wade

      USDA announced January 22 thefirst step in a review of current biotechnology regulations and the opening ofa 60-day comment period following the scheduled publication of the officialnotice in the Federal Register January 23.

      The USDA's intention is to eventually update and strengthen the regulations governing the importation, interstate movement and environmental release of genetically modified organisms.

      A prominent part of the review process will be the development of an Environmental Impact Statement by the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) evaluating current biotech regulations as well as several possible changes to the current system.

      Among the possible changesare development of a multi-tiered, risk-based permitting system to replace thecurrent permit/notification system and enhancements to the deregulation processdesigned to provide flexibility for long term monitoring.

      APHISis encouraging comments and input from stakeholders and the public to determinethe scope of the EIS and any proposed regulations. The January 23 FederalRegister notice will be available for viewing on the APHIS website at: www.aphis.usda.gov

      TheUSDA announcement noted that consideration will be given to all commentsreceived on or before March 23, 2004. Comments may be submitted by postal mail,commercial delivery or e-mail. When submitting comments through the mail or bycommercial delivery send the original document and three copies to: Docket No.03-031-2, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3C71, 4700River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, Md. 20737-1238.

      Tosubmit comments via e-mail, address comments to: regulations@aphis.usda.gov

      Email comments must include the full text of the comment in the body the message; do not send attached files. USDA has also asked that email comments contain the senders full name and address in the body of the message and that "Docket No. 03-031-2" is put on the subject line.

 

High Plains Production Conf. Schedule

2004 Conference Dates and Locations:

Jan. 27 - LlanoEstacado Cotton Conference, Bailey County Coliseum, Muleshoe.

Jan. 28 - CaprockCotton Conference, Plains Baptist Assembly south of Floydada.

Jan. 29 - SouthernMesa Ag Conference, Dawson County Annex Building, 609 North First, Lamesa.

Feb. 10 - The Hale& Swisher County Cotton Conference, Ollie Liner Center, Plainview.

Feb. 12 - TheSandyland Ag Conference, Gaines County Civic Building, Seminole.

Feb. 19 SouthwestCrops Production and Expo, Memorial Civic Center, Lubbock. To pre-register call1-800-253-3160.


 

NRCS Schedules EQIP Meetings

      The Natural Resource andConservation Service has scheduled a series of Environmental Quality IncentivesProgram (EQIP) meetings designed to gather input on funding priorities for theEQIP Program in Texas.

 

 

 

      Program Development Groups(PDG) meetings are open to interested producers that would like to provideinput on EQIP funding priorities.

      Times and locations of thePDG are listed below.


 

EQIP Program DevelopmentGroup (PDG) Meeting Dates, Times and Locations

County

Date

Meeting Time

Location

Hutchinson

1/26/04

1:00 P.M.

Holt School House, S of Spearman on Hwy 281

Lynn

1/26/04

1:00 P.M.

Call Lynn County NRCS office for location

Wheeler

1/26/04

8:00 A.M.

Call Wheeler County NRCS office for location

Cochran

1/27/04

9:00 A.M.

Morton Service Center

Hemphill

1/27/04

5:30 P.M.

County Exhibition Building

Hall

1/27/04

8:30 A.M.

Call Hall County NRCS office for location

Hansford

1/27/04

1:00 P.M.

First State Bank in Spearman

Stonewall

1/27/04

9:00 A.M.

Call Stonewall County NRCS office for location

Yoakum

1/27/04

8:00 A.M.

Plains Community Center, 1006 Ave. G, Plains

Kent

1/28/04

5:00 P.M.

Kent County Courthouse, Jayton

Bailey

1/29/04

9:00 A.M.

Call Bailey County NRCS office for location

Carson

1/29/04

8:00 A.M.

Call Carson County NRCS office for location

Crosby

1/29/04

7:00 P.M.

Pioneer Memorial Building, Crosbyton

Dallam

1/29/04

2:00 P.M.

NRCS Office

King

1/29/04

2:00 P.M.

Call King County NRCS office for location

Sherman

1/29/04

9:00 A.M.

Call Sherman County NRCS office for location

Armstrong

1/30/04

1:00 P.M.

Call Armstrong County NRCS office for location

Garza

2/2/04

7:00 P.M.

Call Garza County NRCS office for location

Hockley

2/2/04

9:00 A.M.

Bank One

Lamb

2/3/04

9:00 A.M.

Littlefield Service Center

Hartley

2/3/04

2:00 P.M.

Call Hartley County NRCS office for location

Motley

2/3/04

9:00 A.M.

Call Motley County NRCS office for location

Swisher

2/3/04

9:00 A.M.

Call Swisher County NRCS office for location

Lubbock

2/4/04

9:00 A.M.

USDA-ARS Plant Stress Lab, 3810 4th St., Lubbock

Cottle

2/5/04

9:30A.M.

Call Cottle County NRCS office for location

Donley

2/5/04

1:00 P.M.

Call Donley County NRCS office for location

Lipscomb

2/5/04

9:30 A.M.

Follett Community Center

Briscoe

2/6/04

9:00 A.M.

Silverton City Bank meeting room

Terry

2/9/04

9:00 A.M.

Terry County NRCS Office

Floyd

2/10/04

9:00 A.M.

Call Floyd County NRCS office for location

Fisher

2/11/04

1:00 P.M.

Roby Service Center

Scurry/Borden

2/12/04

1:00 P.M.

Call Scurry County NRCS office for location

Hale

2/13/04

11:00 A.M.

Call Hale County NRCS office for location