- McLendon Named to Ag Transition Advisory Team
- House Elects New Committee Chairs as 107th Congress Convenes
- Disaster Assistance Sign-Up Begins Jan. 18
- Tax Coalitions Will Make Ag Visible in Reform Debates
- Congressional Seats Shift in Wake of Census
- EPA Examines Bidrin
- NCC Conducts Planting Intentions Survey
- McDill Advances in AMS Cotton Division
- Key OMB, White House Positions Filled
- Sen. Grassley Likely to Head Finance Committee
- Iowa Farm Bureau Favors Payment Limitations
- Aidala Nominated again for EPA Post
- Ranier Resigns as CFTC Chair; Mississippian Likely Successor
- Export Commitments Reach 5 Million Bales
- Effective Jan. 5-11, '00
- Five-Day Average
McLendon Named to Ag Transition Advisory Team
NCC President Robert E. McLendon was named to Agriculture Advisory Transition Team announced by President-Elect George W. Bush. Agriculture is one of 15 committees that will provide input and related outreach activities to Transition Policy Coordination Groups. Former Congressman Bill Paxon will serve as chairman of overall advisory committee.
House Elects New Committee Chairs as 107th Congress Convenes
House members selected committee chairs and Senate leaders discussed power sharing and procedures for 50-50 membership as 107th Congress convened.
House Republicans elected new committee chairmen on Thursday, in some cases abandoning tradition of seniority. In other cases, committees were restructured and several members relinquished chairmanships to comply with Republican caucus rule limiting chairmen to 6-year terms.
Rep. Thomas (CA) was elected chairman of powerful Ways and Means Committee, ending year-long contest with Rep. Crane (IL). Rep. Thomas was first elected to Congress in '78. His district is centered in Bakersfield, his home, and includes Kern and Tulare counties, where cotton is significant element of diverse agriculture industry. He served on Agriculture Committee early in his career before moving to Ways and Means, where he has mastered very complex issues, including healthcare and Medicare. Rep. Thomas generally is considered pro-trade but is sensitive to special situations in agriculture. As Chairman of Ways and Means, he will play key role in working with incoming Administration on tax reform.
Other chairmen elected to serve in 107th Congress are: Rep. Combest (TX) - Agriculture; Rep. Nussle (IA) - Budget; Rep. Hansen (UT) - Resources; Rep. Young (FL) - Appropriations; Rep. Tauzin (LA) - Energy and Commerce; Rep. Hyde (IL) - International Relations; Rep. Young (AK) - Transportation; and Rep. Oxley (OH) - Financial Services.
Meanwhile, Senate leaders Daschle (SD) and Lott (MS) continued to discuss organization and operation of Senate. Agreements are necessary to facilitate organization of committees and procedures for calling-up and considering legislation given 50-50 membership split. Adding to complications, Senate Democrats are majority party until Jan. 20, when Vice President-Elect Cheney replaces Vice President Gore as tiebreaker vote. In preliminary discussions, it appears Senate committee memberships will be equally divided, with Republicans serving as chairmen. However, some members are promoting plan that would give Republicans one-seat majority on 4 committees to reflect 51-50 majority that exists with Republican Vice President casting tiebreaker vote.
Disaster Assistance Sign-Up Begins Jan. 18
USDA-Farm Service Agency (FSA) officials confirmed that sign-up for '00 crop disaster assistance will begin on Jan. 18. Initial sign-up will be for quantity losses and quality and quantity loss combinations.
FSA officials are continuing to develop sign-up procedures for producers who only have quality losses. Provision was included in FY01 Omnibus appropriations measure, approved Dec. 15, clarifying that 20% loss threshold for quality losses applies to "affected" production rather than all production. FSA will conduct training for '00 crop disaster assistance program week of Jan. 8 in San Antonio.
Tax Coalitions Will Make Ag Visible in Reform Debates
Agriculture tax coalitions are consolidating efforts to ensure any tax reform measures that are debated include provisions for agriculture. Family Business Estate Tax Coalition, which includes agriculture and small business interests, is preparing to push for passage of legislation to eliminate estate tax. Last year, House and Senate approved legislation eliminating estate tax, but President Clinton vetoed it.
Reps. Tanner (D-TN) and Dunn (R-WA) have advised coalition they intend to introduce legislation early in 107th Congress and press for early adoption. Sen. Kyl (R-AZ) has indicated his intention to introduce legislation in Senate, and Sen. Grassley (R-IA), likely Senate Finance Committee chairman, has publicly stated that estate tax reform is top priority. Efforts are also underway to urge Administration and Congress to include Farmers and Ranchers Risk Management accounts in any tax reform package.
Congressional Seats Shift in Wake of Census
Eight states will add seats and 10 states will lose seats in House as result of '00 census. Constitution requires each state have at least one seat, with remainder apportioned after each census to account for changing population while maintaining total of 435 members of House. Redistricting is accomplished through political process in all but 5 states-Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, New Jersey and Washington-which have commissions that complete redistricting.
States gaining seats are Arizona, Georgia, Florida and Texas, all gaining 2 seats each, and California, Colorado, Nevada and North Carolina, each picking up one seat. New York and Pennsylvania each lost 2 seats and Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma and Wisconsin each lost one seat.
Experts had not projected North Carolina would gain seat or that Florida would gain 2 seats. They also were surprised that Indiana and Michigan each lost one seat. Utah fell 900 people short of winning additional seat
Coincidentally, 7 of 8 states gaining seats-all but California-went to President-Elect Bush, while 6 of 10 states losing seats went for Gore. If Bush were to win exact same states in '04 that he carried in November, he would win Electoral College by 278-260.
California remains most populous state, but Texas replaced New York as 2nd most populous state.
EPA Examines Bidrin
EPA is continuing its risk reassessments of organophosphates (OPs) under Food Quality Protection Act. Latest cotton product under scrutiny is Bidrin (dicrotophos), important management tool for thrips, aphids and plant bugs, particularly in Mid-South, Southeast and Texas.
As with most OPs, EPA is concerned about estimates for worker and ecological risks. Agency has proposed rate reduction from current 0.5 lb. active ingredient per acre to 0.25 lb.; reduction of applications from 3 to 1 per year; prohibition of aerial applications; and buffer zones around water bodies. In recent discussions with EPA and registrant, AmVac, NCC staff conveyed to agency that such proposals are not feasible and would render product useless in cotton production.
Further complicating process, EPA has applied a 10,000X-uncertainty factor because of data gaps and children's issues. AmVac will conduct several studies to overcome data gaps and, hopefully, eliminate additional safety factors. Registrant claims it will take several months to submit data. EPA seems willing to wait.
NCC Conducts Planting Intentions Survey
NCC is conducting its annual survey of US cotton growers for '01 planting intentions. About one-third of growers were selected at random to receive survey. Recipients are strongly encouraged to participate. Growers are asked to have survey in return mail by Friday, Jan. 12. Results will be released at meeting of American Cotton Producers on Sunday, Jan. 28, in San Diego, CA, just prior to NCC's '01 Annual Meeting.
McDill Advances in AMS Cotton Division
Norma McDill, who has 37 years of service with USDA and has served as associate deputy administrator of Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) Cotton Division since '95, is new deputy administrator of division. McDill will supervise USDA's cotton classing services and preparation and distribution of universal cotton classification standards. AMS Cotton Division also provides oversight for Cotton Research and Promotion Program.
Key OMB, White House Positions Filled
Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr., who most recently served as corporate vice president for Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Company, was named to head Office of Management and Budget by President-Elect Bush. Well-known Republican activist served as chief of staff to Sen. Lugar (R-IN) and as advisor to President Reagan.
President-Elect also announced selection of Josh Bolten as assistant to President and deputy chief of staff for policy and Ari Fleischer as press secretary. Bolten was international trade counsel to Senate Finance Committee from '85-89. He served in former President Bush's administration as general counsel to US Trade Representative and as deputy assistant to President for legislative affairs. Fleischer was press secretary for Sen. Domenici (R-NM) during period '89-94 and then was spokesman for Ways and Means Committee for 5 years. He was communications director for presidential campaign of Elizabeth Dole before joining Bush campaign.
Sen. Grassley Likely to Head Finance Committee
Senate Agriculture Committee member Grassley (R-IA) is in line to fill vacant chairmanship of Senate Finance Committee. Vacancy resulted from Sen. Roth's (R-DE) failed re-election bid.
Grassley told Iowa Farm Bureau audience he hopes to move legislation repealing estate tax. He has also proposed legislation dealing with concentration in agricultural sector. He said nation needs stronger anti-trust laws and hopes next Congress will pass legislation addressing issue.
Iowa Farm Bureau Favors Payment Limitations
Iowa Farm Bureau delegates voted for resolution stating that payment limitations contained in '96 farm law should be continued, with no farmer receiving more than $40,000 in Agriculture Market Transition Act (AMTA) payments and $75,000 in loan deficiency payments and marketing loan gains. Iowa Farm Bureau official said, "if studies show 20% of producers nationally get 80% of payments, ideal would be for 60% of farmers to get that 80%." He acknowledged position is at odds with American Farm Bureau, which favors removal of limitations.
Iowa Farm Bureau also went on record in support of basic tenets of '96 farm law and increasing number of "fragile" acres eligible for Conservation Reserve Program. Group supports evaluating loan rates to eliminate "discrepancies between corn and soybean rates."
Aidala Nominated again for EPA Post
Jim Aidala was nominated by President Clinton to serve as assistant administrator of Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances (OPPTS), replacing Susan Weyland, who announced her retirement last month. OPPTS administers US pesticide and industrial chemical control laws.
Aidala was nominated for position in March but was never confirmed by Senate following June hearing. Aidala could serve up to one year as recess appointee, but is likely to be replaced by appointee to be named by incoming Bush Administration. Nomination would require Senate confirmation.
Ranier Resigns as CFTC Chair; Mississippian Likely Successor
William J. Ranier announced his resignation as chairman of Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), effective Jan. 19. Republican Commissioner Jim Newsome of Mississippi is considered likely candidate to assume chairmanship in '01.
When Ranier became chairman, succeeding Brooksley Born in August '99, he established CFTC reauthorization as his first order of business. Five-year reauthorization was approved last month, ending lengthy and complex debate. Process took longer because legislation also included restructuring of oversight and regulatory functions of CFTC, repeal of 20-year ban on single stock futures and assurance that most bank products will not be placed under CFTC's regulatory authority. Legislation also authorizes new 3-tier regulatory structure that allows exchanges to select level of oversight they believe is appropriate. Commodities will initially remain in most stringently regulated tier.
Ranier's fellow commissioners praised his leadership and expertise.
Export Commitments Reach 5 Million Bales
Net export sales for week ending Dec. 28 were about 76,000 bales (480-lb.), bringing total '00-01 commitments to about 5 million. Shipments for week were over 83,000 bales, raising total exports to 2.03 million.
Effective Jan. 5-11, '00
Adj. World Price, SLM 11/16........51.50 cents* Coarse Count Adjustment............0.00 cents Current Step 2 Certificate Value...2.11 cents Marketing Loan Gain Value..........0.42 cents Import Quotas Open..........................1 *No Adjustment Made Under Step I
Current 3135 c.i.f. N. Eur........65.33 cents Forward 3135 c.i.f. N. Eur...........No Quote Coarse Count c.i.f. N. Eur........61.46 cents Current US c.i.f. N. Eur..........68.69 cents Forward US c.i.f. N. Eur.............No Quote