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|Appropriations Bills Finish Sought|
Congressional leaders want to send at least a few of the 12 annual spending bills to President Obama before the new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.
The House has passed all 12 of its spending bills, while the Senate has passed five. The House had been expected to appoint some conferees on Tuesday, but that did not occur partly because of differences between the two chambers on how to treat earmarks to for-profit entities. House leaders wanted those earmarks to be offered for competitive bids. The Senate already has named its conferees for the five spending bills passed by both chambers including Agriculture (HR 2997).
In response to complaints that earmarks were a source of corruption, House appropriators included provisions in their spending bills requiring that projects directed to for-profit entities undergo a competitive bidding process. Late on Sept. 24, leaders announced they had resolved the differences and conferees will begin meeting on Agriculture and other bills next week.
In the interim to avoid a government shutdown, the House on Sept. 25 approved legislation that included a Continuing Resolution which funds all government operations through the end of October. An extension of highway and transit programs and emergency financial relief for the Postal Service were also added.
|Water Use Amendment Tabled|
The Senate voted to table an amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill offered by Sen. DeMint (R-SC) that would have barred the use of funds in the bill for the Interior Dept. to restrict, reduce or reallocate any water, as determined by biological opinions published by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Those opinions stated that operations of the Federal Central Valley Project and the California State Water Project jeopardize the existence of certain fish and wildlife.The NCC joined the California Cotton Growers and Ginners Associations and other California-based crop organizations in urging the Senate to approve the amendment and end a regulatory drought, which has idled hundreds of thousands of acres of highly productive farm land. As a result, crop production has fallen precipitously, farm income is down dramatically and unemployment in the
|USTR Ag Negotiator Nominee Announced|
The White House announced that President Obama plans to nominate Islam A. Siddiqui to the post of chief agriculture negotiator at the Office of the US Trade Representative.
Siddiqui currently serves as vice president for Science and Regulatory Affairs at CropLife
He received a BS degree in Plant Protection from Uttar Pradesh Agricultural U. in
|Sales Weak, Shipments Steady|
Net export sales for the week ending Sept. 17 were 61,800 bales (480-lb). This brings total ’09-10 sales to about 3.5 million bales. Total sales at the same point in the ’08-09 marketing year were about 5.7 million bales. Total new crop (’10-11) sales are 89,000 bales.
Shipments for the week were 176,400 bales, bringing total exports to date to 1.2 million bales, compared with the 1.8 million bales at the comparable point in the ’08-09 marketing year.
|Derivatives Proposal Review Ongoing|
The House Agriculture Committee continued its review of the Treasury Dept.'s legislative proposals regulating the over-the-counter (OTC) market for derivatives.
Committee Chairman Peterson (D-MN) said, "I agree with some of their ideas and disagree with others, but I think they can help us enact strong legislation that can finally bring order to the unregulated over-the-counter derivatives markets while preserving the ability of end users to effectively hedge their price risk.”
Ranking Member Lucas (R-OK) said, “I congratulate Chairman Peterson for having the two people most responsible for implementing any kind of regulation over the OTC derivatives market in front of the Agriculture Committee so early in the public policy process. This has allowed committee members to gain an understanding of the administration's intent. I still have concerns about the language and direction of the Treasury's proposal, but I plan to work with my colleagues to create meaningful legislation that will respect the nature of the marketplace and protect the American people from a financial crisis."
The opening statements of all witnesses from this and previous hearings are available on the Committee website, http://www.agriculture.house.gov/hearings/statements.html.
The House Agriculture Committee reported legislation, HR 977, in February. That legislation enhances transparency by strengthening reporting requirements; requires all OTC transactions to be cleared; and restricts exemptions from position limits to bona-fide hedgers. It also enhances the CFTC’s enforcement authority.
Chairmen Gensler and Shapiro discussed the Administration’s proposal for far reaching regulatory reform for financial markets and derivatives. That proposal will be considered by the Financial Services Committee which has scheduled a series of hearings.
Chairman Peterson has indicated that if the Financial Services Committee cannot act on comprehensive legislation in a timely manner, he believes the House should act on legislation based on HR 977 in order to ensure the problems associated with previous failures to adequately regulate certain OTC transactions, including Credit Default Swaps, are not repeated.
The NCC has joined other groups in urging prompt action on legislation that will allow futures markets to serve their key role of price discovery for legitimate hedgers.
|States Can Sue Utilities Over Emissions|
The US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled that power companies, under the federal common law of nuisance, can be sued by states and land trusts for emitting carbon dioxide. A two-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit in New York ruled that eight states — California, Connecticut, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin — as well as New York City and three land trusts could proceed with a suit against five large coal-burning utilities -- American Electric Power, Southern Corp., the Tennessee Valley Authority, Xcel Energy and Cinergy Corp.
The case, brought in ’04, said the defendants were creating a “public nuisance” and sought reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that some scientists claim are causing global warming. The plaintiffs cited studies from the United Nations and the National Academy of Sciences that predicted damage and claimed that their environments already had been damaged. The land trusts said that an increase in sea level would inundate their properties, among other problems.
This court decision means that all three branches of the federal government could have a role because the Supreme Court ruled in April ’07 that greenhouse gases were a pollutant under the Clean Air Act (CAA) and, thus, could be regulated administratively by EPA.
EPA released a final rule establishing a mandatory greenhouse gas emissions reporting program. The rule would require facilities emitting 25,000 tons or more of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to report their emissions. EPA estimates the rule will require reporting from about 10,000 facilities that account for about 85% of US greenhouse gas emissions. Reporting requirements will go into effect Jan. 1, ’10, and the first reports must be submitted to EPA by the end of March ’11.
On the legislative front, Sen. Murkowski (R-AK) offered an amendment to the EPA appropriations bill that would have prohibited EPA from proceeding with regulations outside of the scope of the Supreme Court decision -- which involved only emissions from cars and trucks. Democratic leadership would not allow a vote on the amendment but instead allowed Sen. Murkowski floor time to discuss her amendment. She explained that the amendment’s purpose was to relieve the pressure and to allow for reasonable deliberation on a highly impactful bill.
Meanwhile, activity on climate legislation is proceeding in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Sens. Boxer (D-CA) and Kerry (D-MA) are expected to introduce a bill during the week of Sept. 28. Sen. Boxer previously has stated that she intends to use the Waxman/Markey bill, including the amendments negotiated by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Peterson (D-MN), as a starting point but likely will include tougher short term targets for capping emissions.
|NCC Supports USDA Pesticide Office|
The NCC, in concert with a number of other agricultural organizations, sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Vilsack urging support for USDA’s Office of Pest Management Policy (OPMP). OPMP was established in the ’98 farm law and recently was reauthorized through ’12.
OPMP’s purpose is to provide for effective coordination of policies and activities within USDA and throughout the federal government on issues that affect pesticide use and availability. OPMP has played a key role on significant issues such as providing critical data and analyses to other regulatory agencies, funding and coordinating vital research projects, promoting integrated pest management and supporting USDA’s risk assessments. This office was a major contributor to policy debates in the implementation of the Food Quality Protection Act.
Agricultural organizations are concerned that under the current administration and its emphasis on organic production, the OPMP would be downgraded. In the letter, these groups specifically asked the Secretary to appoint a special assistant to the Secretary for Pest Management Policy; to fill the vacant position of director of the Office of Pest Management Policy; to ensure that the director reports directly to the Secretary or a designee of the Secretary; and to adequately fund and support the OPMP.
|Mill Cotton Use Slide Continues|
According to the Commerce Dept., August (four-week month) total cotton consumption in domestic mills was 132.0 million pounds for a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 3.44 million bales (480-lb). Last year’s August annualized rate was 4.60 million bales.
The July (four-week month) estimate of domestic mill cotton use was raised by 1.1 million pounds to 126.7 million. The revised seasonally adjusted annualized rate of consumption for July is 3.46 million bales, lower than last year’s July annualized rate of 4.53 million bales.
The Commerce Dept. estimate of both upland and extra long staple (ELS) consumption of cotton by
Commerce’s survey-based estimate of stocks on hand as of July 31, ’09 was 6.34 million bales. USDA’s September estimate of ending stocks for the ’08-09 crop year was 6.20 million bales.
Preliminary September domestic mill use of cotton and revised August figures will be released by Commerce on Oct. 22. USDA’s next supply and demand estimates are scheduled to be released on Oct. 9.
|Prices Effective Sept. 25-Oct. 1, '09|