Happy Thanksgiving

 

 

Budget Reconciliation Conference Is
Next Challenge Facing Congress

Friday, November 25, 2005                        By Shawn Wade

      With the passage of budgetreconciliation legislation by the House of Representatives on November 18 thestage is set for leaders from the House and Senate to attempt to iron out aunified plan for budget reconciliation when they return from the Thanksgivingbreak.

      The Senate, which passed itsbudget reconciliation bill several weeks ago, approved a package of cutstotaling $35 billion including $3 billion in agriculture program cuts. TheSenate bill essentially matched the budget reconciliation savings target fortotal mandatory spending reductions agreed on earlier this year.

      Unlike the Senate, the House'sbudget reconciliation bill was significantly affected by an effort to achieveadditional savings over and above the previously agreed to target levels.

      The additional House savingsare being sought as a means to offset relief costs in Louisiana and neighboringstates in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

      Overall the House agreed on atotal of $49.5 billion in mandatory program savings with approximately $3.6billion resulting from agriculture program cuts.

      While the House and Senatehave approved similarly structured cuts in agriculture programs some majordifferences do exist. One of those differences, which will play a significantrole in shaping the conference report is the Senate's decision to cut agprogram spending deeper than necessary in order to come up with enough money toinclude a two-year extension of the MILC program.

      The Senate's MILC provisionhas already influenced things in the House where Republican leaders had toagree to support the measure in conference to secure enough votes to pass thebudget reconciliation bill last week.

      Another wild card in the deckis the level of pressure the Bush Administration will put on Republican leadersduring the conference. A recently released Statement of Administration Policy(SAP) on budget reconciliation shows that the Administration has several ideasit would like to have included in the final conference report.

      One agriculture itemspecifically mentioned in the SAP is the proposed elimination of the cottonStep 2 program at the end of the current cotton marketing year on August 1,2006.

      The elimination of Step 2program is part of the U.S. response to the recent WTO Dispute Panel findingthat the Step 2 program was an illegal export subsidy and violated the currentWTO Agreement on Agriculture.

      As the Administration worksto secure a new agriculture agreement during the Doha Round of WTOnegotiations, it is seeking a quicker end to the Step 2 program in order tokeep Brazil from retaliating against the U.S. and to further advance the Dohanegotiations.

      The Administration alsocalled for elimination of a provision included by the House to extend theConservation Security Program through 2011; advised against cuts to severalconservation programs; and criticized a provision that achieves savings byshifting Direct payment dates.

      Whether House and Senateconferees will take the Administration's agriculture recommendations to heartis certainly not guaranteed given that both House and Senate Ag Committeeleadership largely ignored the Administration's views when determining theircuts.

      Unfortunately, differences inthe commodity program spending sections of the two bills may be the least ofCongresses worries. Volatile issues such as the authorization of drilling inthe Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) could completely torpedo theprocess.

      For Congress the budgetreconciliation conference promises to be a challenging - but not impossible –task. One thing that is certain is that they will try to complete this task inthe limited time between Thanksgiving and the Christmas recess.

 

 

Texas Country Cleanup Dates Announced
For West Texas Region December 5-16

Friday, November 25, 2005                        By Shawn Wade

      The Texas Commission onEnvironmental Quality, Texas Department of Agriculture and Texas CooperativeExtension are getting together to clean up the Texas countryside during themonth of December.

      The Texas Country Cleanupevents are free of charge and open to all Texas residents, not just farmers andranchers. Participation is voluntary and confidential.

      The joint effort is made of aseries of six waste pesticide collection events across the West Texas region.Collection dates have been set up for Pampa, Dumas, Hereford, Slaton, St.Lawrence and Fabens beginning December 5 and ending December 16.

      High Plains residents will bemost interested in the Hereford (December 9) and Slaton (December 12)collection dates.

      The program will acceptleftover banned or unwanted agricultural pesticides, home chemicals includingpesticides paints and thinners, antifreeze, household batteries, aerosol cans,photographic chemicals mercury thermometers, herbicides, gasoline, cleaners,pool chemicals, fluorescent bulbs used motor oil and oil filters, lead acidbatteries and other automotive products.

      The program cannot acceptused tires, radioactive materials, explosives, compressed gas cylinders,herbicides containing 2,4,5-TP (Silvex), pesticides or wood preservativescontaining pentachlorophenol in quantities greater than five gallons.

      The following is a list ofscheduled cleanup dates and locations with appropriate contact information forobtaining additional information.

Texas Country Cleanup

Agricultural Waste PesticideCollections

December Collection Schedule

 

Date

Time

City—Location

Contact

 

Dec. 5

 

8:00 a.m. –1:00 p.m.

 

Pampa

Gray County Show Barn, 12125 E. Frederic

 

Brandon McGinty,

Gray Co. Extension Agent,

806-669-8033

 

Dec. 7

8:00 a.m. –1:00 p.m.

Dumas

Old TxDOT Warehouse, 6091 West 1st at Hwy 87

Dennis Beilue,

Moore Co. Extension Agent,

806-935-2594

 

Dec. 9

8:00 a.m. –1:00 p.m.

Hereford

Bull Barn, 3820 County Road 6A

Rick Auckerman,

Deaf Smith Co. Extension Agent,

806-364-3573

 

Dec. 12

8:00 a.m. –1:00 p.m.

Slaton

Max Lee Crop Spraying, 880 Industrial Drive

Mark Brown,

Lubbock Co. Extension Agent,

806-775-1680

 

Dec. 14

8:00 a.m. –1:00 p.m.

St. Lawrence

Glasscock Co. Co-Op, 300 CR Co-Op

Warren Multer,

Glasscock Co. Extension Agent,

432-354-2477

 

Dec. 16

8:00 a.m. –1:00 p.m.

Fabens

Fabens Transfer Station, 1550 Fabens Street

Sara Downing,

El Paso Co. Extension Agent,

915-859-7725

 

Source: TCEQ, TDA, TCE