Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, announced an agricultural agreement on the climate change bill that the House of Representatives passed Friday night (June 26) by a vote of 219-212. Peterson worked out the agreement with Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Peterson said, “The climate change bill will include a strong agriculture offset program run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that will allow farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners to participate fully in a market-based carbon offset program. This agreement also addresses concerns about international indirect land use provisions that unfairly restricted U.S. biofuels producers and exempts agriculture and forestry from the definition of a capped sector.” On indirect land use, the agreement postpones the RFS2 (Renewable Fuels Standard) rule provision on indirect land use for five years (three-year study, two years for determination), plus another year for implementation at the conclusion, if needed. The agreement gives the secretary of agriculture veto power over the determination.

American Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman says proposed climate change legislation “…continues to be seriously flawed. The bill’s provisions and omissions are very problematic for U.S. agriculture, our national economy and domestic energy security. Even after the stellar efforts of House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson and many rural members of Congress to win vital changes for America’s farm and ranch families – efforts that we strongly endorse and support – there are simply too many flaws in the underlying bill. Despite inclusion of Chairman Peterson’s hard-fought provisions to reward farmers for carbon offsets and to remove the phony indirect-land-use calculation, this bill should be amended further or defeated.”

Agricultural Appropriations — The House Appropriations Committee passed the fiscal year 2010 agriculture appropriations bill. The bill is similar to the agriculture appropriations subcommittee passed bill that provides $20.4 billion for discretionary funds. The bill provides additional funding for nutrition programs and food safety. It terminates four programs including the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). Some of the key provisions of the bill:

  • Nutrition for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) – $7.541 billion which is an increase of $681 million above FY 2009. The bill provides funding to bring WIC participation to more than 10 million people.
  • Rural development – $2.825 billion, an increase of $92 million over last year, for USDA programs important to rural communities including rural housing, water projects, community facilities and economic development efforts.
  • Animal and plant health – $886 million to fund programs to protect American agriculture against animal and plant diseases. This is an increase of $4.3 billion.
  • Conservation programs – $980.3 million for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The bill restores cuts to the Resource Conservation and Development Program and the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations Program. The committee rejected the administration’s proposed cuts in the Wetlands Reserve Program, Farmland Protection Program and Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program.
  • Food safety – Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) receives over a $1 billion increase in funding.
  • MAP & FMD – fully funds the Market Access Program at $200 million and the Foreign Market Development program at $34.5 million. These programs have been used to promote and expand U.S. agricultural exports.
  • COOL – fully funds the costs to continue overseeing mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL).
  • Imported poultry products from China – prohibits USDA from moving forward with a rule to allow poultry products from China into the United States.
EPA Appropriations — A number of agricultural issues were debated during the House Appropriations Committee’s consideration of the fiscal year 2010 Interior Department and EPA appropriations bill:
  • Livestock manure – bars EPA from requiring the mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from manure management systems.
  • Greenhouse gases and livestock – blocks Clean Air Act regulations for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that result from biological processes associated with livestock production.
  • Indirect land use – the committee defeated by one vote an amendment by Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO) that would have stopped EPA from considering the impact of indirect land-use changes when calculating greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels production.
P. Scott Shearer
Vice President
Bockorny Group
Washington, D.C.