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Federal Government News

Subcommittee Examines Dairy Programs
in Third D.C. Farm Bill Hearing

WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Thomas J. Rooney, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry held a hearing on reforming dairy programs in the 2012 Farm Bill.  This is the third of eight hearings which are gathering agricultural leaders in Washington to share their perspective on farm policy.

Witnesses discussed problems with current dairy programs and provided feedback on proposals being considered to address those inadequacies.   Dr. Scott Brown, Assistant Research Professor at the University of Missouri, provided economic analysis of policies under discussion.  Other witnesses shared their perspective on the potential impacts of dairy reform.

“At our dairy audit hearing last fall, we got a sense for the inadequacy of some of our current dairy programs. We know that innovative ideas are needed in order to ensure our programs support our producers, facilitate product and market development, and continue to maintain the availability of safe, abundant, and affordable product for our consumers.  While consensus is building around some of the proposed reforms to dairy programs that we can implement in the Farm Bill, today’s hearing focused on some controversial elements, and that’s why it was critical for us to receive the economic analysis that we did in order to gain an understanding about how these new recommendations would work and what their impacts would be,” said Chairman Thomas J. Rooney (R-FL).

“As policy makers, we must be sensitive to the different geographical challenges and work to craft a consensus package that meets the needs of most if not all.  It is extremely important that facts and data drive the discussion as we work to craft a solution that will smooth out the roller coaster of highs and lows,” said Ranking Member Dennis A. Cardoza (D-CA).

Written testimony provided by the witnesses is linked below. More information regarding the 2012 Farm Bill process can be found here.

Witness List:

Panel I

Dr. Scott Brown, Assistant Research Professor, Integrated Policy Group, Division of Applied Social Sciences, College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, University of Missouri

Mr. Patrick Joseph “Joe” Wright, V&W Farms, Inc., on behalf of Southeast Milk, Inc., Avon Park, Florida

Mr. Tom Barcellos, Board President, Western United Dairymen, Porterville, California

Mr. John Davis, Chief Executive Officer, Davisco Foods International, Inc., on behalf of International Dairy Foods Association, Le Sueur, Minnesota

Mr. Jerry Kozak, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Milk Producers Federation, Arlington, Virginia


Peterson Statement: Senate Agriculture Committee Approves 2012 Farm Bill

WASHINGTON – U.S. House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., today made the following statement after the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry approved the 2012 Farm Bill, “The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012.”

“This brings us one step closer to having a farm bill in place before the current bill expires in September. Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Roberts have found a bipartisan way to move forward and the full Senate should now take action. Given today’s action, the House Agriculture Committee should move quickly to mark-up a farm bill.

“The strong, bipartisan tone set by the Senate mark-up makes me more confident that we can get past some of the recent partisanship and get a farm bill done this year. We know there will be differences between the House and Senate bills but I am confident that, if permitted, we can work through these differences in conference committee.”



Lucas Statement on the Senate Ag Committee’s Farm Bill





WASHINGTON – Chairman Frank Lucas issued the following statement after the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry approved the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012.


“I commend Chairwoman Stabenow, Ranking Member Roberts and the other members of the Senate Ag Committee for advancing their farm bill today.  This is an important first step in the development of the next Farm Bill. I look forward to concluding the House Agriculture Committee’s hearing process and working with Ranking Member Peterson and members of the Committee to write the House bill in the coming weeks.


“I am disappointed by the Senate bill’s commodity title because it does not work for all of agriculture. It fails to provide producers a viable safety net and instead locks in profit for a couple of commodities.


“I have made it clear that my chief priority is making certain that the commodity title is equitable and provides a safety net for all covered commodities and all regions of the country. A shallow loss program is not a safety net. It does not provide protection against price declines over multiple years and it does not work for all commodities.” 


Lucas Commends Farmers & Ranchers
for Pushing Obama Administration to Drop Youth Labor Rule


WASHINGTON – Chairman Frank Lucas issued the following statement regarding the announcement from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) that the agency is withdrawing a proposed regulation that would have prohibited young people from working on family farms.

“I am pleased that common sense finally prevailed and the Department of Labor withdrew its burdensome, misguided proposed rule that would have prevented young people from working on farms.  This proposed rule created great angst in the countryside about the impact it would have had on the future of the family farm.  It was a concern that agricultural producers kept raising during our Farm Bill field hearings.   

“The Obama administration has proposed numerous rules that affect family farmers and ranchers without fully knowing the impact of their actions.  I hope this will serve as a lesson to the administration that they should seek input from the agriculture sector before continuing to move forward with unworkable regulations.

“I applaud the efforts of my colleagues, specifically, the leadership of Rep. Rehberg, as well as Reps. Latham and Boren who introduced H.R. 4157, the Preserving America’s Family Farms Act that would have blocked DOL from implementing any regulation that prohibits youth from working on family-owned farms.

“I also commend the entire agriculture community, including the thousands of farmers and ranchers, who voiced strong opposition to this rule.  This victory is due, in no small part, because the entire agriculture community worked together.  It is a reminder of what we can achieve when we are united by a common goal.


House Bill Halts Administration’s Power Grab & Expansion of Water Regulation

WASHINGTON – Legislation was introduced in the House today to halt the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers’ attempts to illegally expand federal power under the Clean Water Act and extend the government’s regulatory reach to every ditch, puddle and pond in the country.

Leaders of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Agriculture Committee introduced H.R. 4965, a bill to prohibit the Obama Administration from finalizing or implementing the EPA and Corps Clean Water Act “guidance” in order to significantly broaden the scope of federal jurisdiction under the Act.  This guidance would allow the unprecedented regulation of waters, occasionally wet areas and land use decisions not previously subject to federal regulation.  Any regulatory expansion under the Clean Water Act must follow proper, transparent rulemaking procedures – not the unlawful, backdoor conversion of publicly unvetted agency guidance into de facto federal regulation.

The Obama Administration is doing everything in its power to increase costs and regulatory burdens for American businesses, farmers, and individual property owners,” said the bill’s sponsor, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-FL).  “This federal jurisdiction grab has been opposed by Congress for years, and now the Administration and its agencies are ignoring law and rulemaking procedures in order to tighten their regulatory grip over every water body in the country.  But this Administration needs to realize it is not above the law.”

“The public has a right to be heard on federal actions affecting their lives,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Nick J. Rahall II (D-WV).  “The voices of our constituents should, and must, have an impact on the decision-making process; yet, here again, the EPA is seeking to impose its will via interim guidance and then asking for the public’s views after the fact.  This method of operation leaves citizens with little faith that the government understands or cares about the effect its actions have on their lives, and it leads to unworkable, inequitable Federal regulations that undermine the People’s faith in their own government.”

“The new authorities granted in this guidance would allow the EPA and the Corps of Engineers the authority to regulate almost any body of water in the U.S.,” said Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK).  “That means farm ponds, stock tanks, and seasonal runoff ditches could conceivably be included under new regulations.  The economic impact on farmers, ranchers, and rural communities would be devastating.  This legislation allows us to restore and protect our natural resources by working together and balancing state and federal authority.  President Obama and his EPA must stop this pattern of over-regulation and intrusion into individual and state rights.” 

“I believe in protecting our waterways, and that the Clean Water Act is the law of the land,” said Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN).  “This policy is too important to be done administratively and should go through a formal process, that’s why I am joining my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and supporting this bill.  I was opposed to this Clean Water Act expansion when the Bush Administration tried it and now when the current Administration is trying it.  We should not be regulating every puddle, pond and ditch.  We need to provide certainty in our permitting process so agriculture and businesses can predict and plan for the future.”

“This bipartisan effort should be a message to not only the EPA, but to all federal agencies that it is unacceptable for unelected bureaucrats in Washington to expand their authority on their own initiative,” said Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH).  “This legislation is critical to beat back the overreach of the EPA and I am proud to sponsor it alongside the Chairmen and Ranking Members of both the Agriculture and Transportation Committees.”

In February, EPA and the Corps sent a final guidance document entitled “Guidance on Identifying Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act” to the Office of Management and Budget for regulatory review.  Mica, Lucas, and Gibbs joined Senate Republicans in writing to the Office of Management and Budget to oppose changes to the scope and meaning of the Clean Water Act sought by the Administration through guidance.

Statutory changes to the Clean Water Act must be submitted to Congress for legislative action, and regulatory changes require a notice and comment rulemaking, according to the Administrative Procedure Act.

The legislation introduced today prevents the Administration from skirting the law and would require a formal rulemaking for any attempt to change the definition of “waters of the United States” and increase the federal government’s power under the Clean Water Act.

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