Farm Bill Languishes As 2012 Draws To Close
Friday, December 28, 2012 By Mary Jane Buerkle
Although hopes were high that Congress would pass a farm bill in 2012, as of press time that still is not the case, as the U.S. House will not return for votes until Sunday and fiscal cliff negotiations are taking center stage.
Tom Sell with Combest, Sell & Associates said that although not much has changed regarding farm policy negotiations, talk has gone toward a one-year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill as opposed to a five-year bill. He said that Congress returning before the end of the year is "encouraging."
"Committee staffs are working to be ready, but it all hinges on whether the big deal is brokered," Sell said, referring to the fiscal cliff talks.
The Senate passed their version of a five-year Farm Bill in June, and the House Agriculture Committee passed their own five-year version shortly thereafter, but the bill never made it to the House floor. House Speaker John Boehner has claimed that the votes wouldn't materialize for the bill to pass if it went to the floor.
"Although a one-year extension would only be a short-term solution for our producers, it would be an acceptable one so that producers could at least have something to bank on, quite literally, for the 2013 crop year," PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett said. "The Southwest Council of Agribusiness has been working toward putting together the best bill possible for all producers, and we all remain hopeful that Congress can pass something soon."
Watch Your Mail for Census of Agriculture
The 2012 Census of Agriculture forms will be mailed to over 3 million U.S. agricultural producers during the last week of December. In Texas, about 375,000 Census forms are being mailed out. The mailings include all known farmers, ranchers, and agricultural producers, plus a large number of potential agricultural producers.
The USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Texas Field Office has provided responses to some of the most commonly asked questions about the Census of Agriculture.
1. What is the Census of Agriculture?
The first Census of Agriculture was conducted in 1840, and is now conducted every five years. The Census is a complete count of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. The Census looks at land use and tenure, operator characteristics, production practices and economic information. The Census serves as a very important "voice" for America's farmers and ranchers.
2. Why is the Census of Agriculture important?
The Census provides the only source of uniform, comprehensive and impartial agricultural data for every county in the nation. Through the Census, producers will show the value and importance of agriculture in their county and can help influence decisions that will shape the future of American agriculture. By responding to the Census, producers are helping themselves and their communities.
3. Who uses the Census of Agriculture data?
Census data are used by all who serve farmers and rural communities: university research and extension, state and local officials, agribusinesses, farm organizations, commodity groups, and many others.
Companies and cooperatives use the facts and figures to determine future locations of facilities that will serve agricultural producers.
Community planners use the information to target needed services to rural residents.
Legislators use Census statistics when shaping farm policies and programs.
Producers use the information in making plans for their future operations.
Other uses of Census information:
Used to allocate block grant dollars to states
Used to allocate funds for beginning farmer, conservation and other programs
Used to help identify research priorities and to allocate funds accordingly
Used in rural economic development like broadband Internet expansion
4. I'm retired or I've never farmed, do I need to return the Census form? Yes.
Everyone who receives a Census form is required to return the Census form, even if they no longer farm or have never been involved in agriculture. A simple note of explanation on the front page will suffice. Please note: retired operators who own land enrolled in CRP or WRP are counted as farms and should complete the Census form.
I only have a small operation, do I count? Yes.
It only takes $1,000 worth of agricultural production to be counted as a farm. A few cows, several goats, laying hens for local egg sales, some hay production – it doesn't take much to be a farm. Everyone should complete and return their Census form.
Other key points:
The Census of Agriculture has mandatory reporting authority, just like the population Census. This is due to the tremendous value of the information and because of the large amount of funds and resources targeted and allocated based on Census results.
Individual information is guaranteed complete confidentiality by federal law, Title 7 of the U.S. code. Title 7 prevents NASS from sharing individual information with any other government agency and also gives NASS immunity from any type of mandatory disclosure of individual data, including legal processes and FOIA.
NASS is restricted to publishing only aggregate totals at state and county levels such that the identity of any individual is not discernible in the published totals.
The form is lengthy, but there are many commodity specific sections for which producers will simply check "No", because they do not raise those items.
There is a toll free phone number on the front of the Census form for anyone with questions: (888) 424-7828. NASS will operate calling centers from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, to respond to incoming calls.
For more information about the Census of Agriculture, please call the USDA's NASS Texas Field Office at (800) 626-3142.
Area Ag Conferences Scheduled for January
January 14 - Cotton Conference, Perryton Expo - Contact Scott Strawn, County Extension Agent-AG, for more information at 806-435-4501.
January 14 - Hutchinson/Hansford Cotton Meeting, O'Laughlin Building, Spearman - Contact Kristy Synatschk, County Extension Agent-AG, for more information at 806-878-4026.
January 15 - Cotton Production Meeting, Groom Community Center - Contact Jody Bradford, County Extension Agent-AG, for more information at 806-537-3882.
January 21 - Cotton Production Profit Workshop, Morton - Contact Jeff Molloy, County Extension Agent-AG, for more information at 806-266-5215.
January 22 - South Plains Ag Conference, Brownfield - Contact Chris Bishop, County Extension Agent-AG, for more information at 806-637-4060.
January 22 - Grain Sorghum Symposium, Ollie Liner Center, Plainview - Contact Gary Cross, County Extension Agent-AG, for more information at 806-291-5267.
January 23 - Northwest Texas AG Conference, Wellington - Contact Dale Dunlap, County Extension Agent-AG, for more information at 806-447-2313.
January 24 - Caprock Crop Production Workshop, Unity Center, Muncy - Contact Caitlin Jackson, County Extension Agent-AG, for more information at 806-675-2347.
January 25 - Commercial Turf and Ornamental Workshop, Lubbock - Contact Mark Brown, CEA-AG, County Extension Agent-AG, for more information at 806-775-1680.
January 25 - Llano Estacado Cotton Conference, Bailey County Coliseum, Muleshoe - Contact Curtis Preston, County Extension Agent-AG, for more information at 806-272-4584.
January 28 - iPhone/iPad Training - Seminole Civic Building, Seminole - Contact Terry Millican, County Extension Agent-AG, for more information at 432-758-4006.
January 29 - Grain Sorghum Symposium, Lubbock - Contact Mark Brown, CEA-AG, County Extension Agent-AG, for more information at 806-775-1680.
January 29 - Small Farms Business Seminar, Plainview - Contact Gary Cross, County Extension Agent-AG, for more information at 806-291-5267.
January 29 - Cotton Variety and Economics Workshop, Farwell Community Center - Contact Benji Henderson, County Extension Agent-AG, for more information at 806-481-3619.
January 30 - Alternative Crops Meeting, Post - Contact Greg Jones, County Extension Agent-AG, for more information at 806-495-4400.
January 31 - Sorghum Variety Selection and Economic Management Meeting, Brownfield - Contact Chris Bishop, County Extension Agent-AG, for more information at 806-637-4060.
If you have another conference to add to this list, or if you have an agenda you'd like to link, please call PCG at (806) 792-4904 and ask for Mary Jane Buerkle, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All spring conferences are listed at http://www.plainscotton.org/agconferences.html.