SenateAg Completes Farm Bill Mark-up

Friday, October 26, 2007                           By Shawn Wade

      Members of the SenateAgriculture Committee completed in just two days what might be considered awhirlwind mark-up process for its version of the 2007 Farm Bill. Officiallynamed The Food and Energy Security Act of 2007, the bill would provide some$288 billion in commodity support, conservation and food and nutrition programspending when coupled with a $5 billion permanent disaster provision alreadyapproved by the Senate Finance Committee.

      Compared to the months ofhaggling that preceded this week's activity, the final mark-up process wentsmoothly and provided very little drama, even though the potential forcontentious debate and disagreement was certainly present.

      Setting the process in motionwas Senate Agriculture Chairman Tom Harkin who posted the final pieces of hisChairman's mark just hours before the full Agriculture Committee convened earlyOctober 24th to start deliberating proposed amendments to the underlyinglegislative language.

      One reason why the processwent so smoothly was that some Senate Ag Committee members, knowing they didnot have enough support within the Committee to push their proposals through,agreed to withdraw their amendments from consideration in favor of offeringthem later on during the floor to try and improve their odds of success.

      At the end of the dayThursday the proposed Senate Bill, while not identical, turned out remarkablysimilar to the legislation passed by the House of Representatives earlier thisyear. This is good news for supporters of the current safety net program.

      One of the more notablecosmetic departures between the House and Senate in regard to the CommodityTitle is the name change it received from Chairman Harkin. Under the Senate AgCommittee's bill the Commodity Title is now known as the Producer IncomeProtection (PIP) Title.

      In addition to the namechange, the Senate bill proposes an optional Average Crop Revenue (ACR) optionfor producers beginning with the 2010 crop year. This provision is similar tothe optional revenue protection program offered by the House.

      Most importantly, though, theSenate's PIP title carries forward all of the safety net provisions producersare familiar with in the 2002 Farm Bill albeit with some minor adjustments.

      Altogether nine amendmentswere approved by the Senate Ag Committee modifying Chairman Harkin's initialoffering. Most of the approved amendments appear to deal with technical orcommodity specific issues.

      Of primary import to programcrop producers was the all-new ACR program and an amendment that significantlymodified how it was proposed to operate. Leading the effort to change the ACRwas Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas.

      First, and most importantly,the Roberts amendment stripped a linkage between the ACR and the Federal CropInsurance Program.

      Two other significantalterations included limiting producers to making a one-time choice toparticipate in the ACR between the 2010 and 2012 growing seasons when theprogram would be put into operation and establishing payment acres equal to the85 percent of base acres standard currently used in the 2002 Farm Bill's Directand Counter-cyclical programs.

Floor Debate is Senate's Next Step

      When the bill will be broughtto the Senate floor is anyone's guess at this time. About the only thing agreedon by most observers is that the Senate debate is going to be very differentfrom the debate that occurred in the House of Representatives.

      For now, Senate Democratscontinue to discuss sticking with their original timeline, which could bringthe bill to the floor the week of October 29. Such a strategy would tend tolimit the time available for farm bill opponents to develop additionalamendments that could sidetrack the process, or worse, significantly alter theunderlying policies contained in the bill.

      The second Senate debatescenario projects floor time being provided the week of November 5, whichincreases the likelihood that a large number of amendments would have to beworked through on the floor.

      For producers wondering aboutthe specifics of the Senate package, a summary of the bill should becomeavailable before the start of the floor debate. Every effort will be made tomake this information available as soon as it comes out.

 

Wantthe facts about the U.S. farm policy. Get what you need at:

www.farmpolicyfacts.com

 

UpdatedCrop Disaster Calculator Ready
for Download from TCE and PCG Websites

Friday, October 26, 2007                           By Shawn Wade

      An updated version of theTexas Cooperative Extension/Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. 2005/2006 Crop DisasterCalculator is now available. The revised calculator can be used to estimatedisaster benefits from losses incurred during the 2005 or 2006 growing seasons.

      Now on the verge of startingthe process many eligible producers looking to estimate what, if any,assistance they may qualify for based on the losses they incurred. Texas FarmService Agency offices are rapidly gearing up to begin sign-up for the2005/06/07 Crop Disaster Program.

      To download the updatedcalculator from the Plains Cotton Growers website, follow the links on the PCGHome page located at www.plainscotton.org.

      Theoriginal version of the calculator, which operates via a Microsoft Excelspreadsheet, was posted earlier this year following Congressional approval ofthe program. The first spreadsheet assumed the FSA yield database would becalculated using county level production information from the 2000-2004 growingseasons.

Continued on page 2

      It turns out FSA is actuallyusing yield data from the 2001-2005 growing seasons to calculate the program'scrop tables. This could make a rather dramatic difference in the resultsprovided by the spreadsheet and growers are encouraged to get the new versionand rerun their calculations.

 

     

2007 Cotton Quality Summary

      Thefollowing is a summary of the cotton classed at the Lubbock and Lamesa USDACotton Division Cotton Classing Offices for the 2007 production season.

 

Week Ending October 25, 2006:

 

Office

Bales

Color

Leaf

Staple

Lamesa

37,177

21+

2.15

35.63

Lubbock

106,356

21+

2.45

35.49

 

Mike

Strength

Uniformity

Bark

Lamesa

4.26

28.46

80.74

2.1%

Lubbock

4.17

29.02

80.40

1.3%

 

 

Season Totals To Date:

 

Office

Bales

Color

Leaf

Staple

Lamesa

46,110

21+

2.35

35.54

Lubbock

154,999

21+

2.49

35.45

 

Mike

Strength

Uniformity

Bark

Lamesa

4.23

28.27

80.70

3.0%

Lubbock

4.20

29.09

80.49

1.5%