Friday, March 7, 2008

Washington Update

The U.S. Congress has one more week prior to taking their Easter recess break March 15-30th. Efforts to finish a new Farm Bill will probably require an extension of the 2002 farm bill beyond March 15, 2008. Speculation is that it could be for one month. However, some have suggested for at least one year. The reasons for delay in sending a new bill to the President include: spending above the 10-year baseline budget set by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) The Administration has offered to go $10 billion over the budget but have asked Congress for major subsidy and funding reforms. These include a cap on payments to certain producers, not raising loan rates for producers, and changing some measures to protect sugar producers.
The Administration has also asked for budget offsets for the increase above the budget baseline. Some of the recommendations would be changes in Dairy Support, Crop Insurance, Planting Restrictions, Food Aid, and Disaster Funding.

Meanwhile key Agriculture Committee staff members have been meeting to make recommendations to Conferees on many items that are not the same in the House and Senate bills. House Agriculture Committee Chair Peterson has said he believes a farm bill deal can be struck before March 14.

The Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) released their U.S. Baseline Briefing Book: Projections for Agricultural and Biofuel Markets. It is a 68 page document. FAPRI is headquartered at Columbia, Missouri.

—Norm Berg

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