The House of Representatives is expected to consider the fiscal year 2012 agriculture appropriations bill this week. An issue may be the proposed Grain Inspection and Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rule on livestock and poultry marketing. The legislation contains a provision that would not allow any funds to be made available to be used to “write, prepare, develop, or publish” a final rule or an interim final rule regarding USDA’s proposed GIPSA rule on livestock and poultry marketing. In essence, this would stop any work on the proposed rule during fiscal year 2012, which begins Oct. 1. This language is supported by a number of beef and pork groups, including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, American Hereford Association, Certified Angus Beef, and various state beef and pork associations. Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) has raised concerns with not allowing USDA to complete the rule. She has considered offering an amendment to reinstate funding to allow USDA to complete the rule. Her effort is supported by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF). In a letter to Congresswoman Kaptur, AFBF said, “We also have no affiliation with major packers, integrators or processors, and therefore our only interest is the impact of this rule on farmers and ranchers. Because of this unique position, there are several provisions in this rule that we strongly support, while others give us pause.”

Direct Farm Payment Limitations – The FY ’12 agriculture appropriations bill passed by the House Appropriations Committee includes a provision prohibiting funds for certain direct farm bill payments for producers with incomes exceeding $250,000.

COOL for Fuel – Congressman Bruce Braley (D-IA) has introduced legislation that requires all gasoline sold in the United States to carry country-of-origin labeling (COOL). “The COOL for Fuels” bill is to let American consumers see where their gasoline is coming from and to help create more jobs by encouraging consumption of American-made fuels and alternatives. Congressman Bralely said, “The legislation will require the Department of Energy to conduct a study and implement its recommendations to ensure American consumers have the ability to decide at the gas pump whether they want to purchase domestic fuels, such as biofuels produced in Iowa, or gasoline produced in foreign, hostile nations.”

Opt Out of Renewable Fuels Standard – Legislation, “The Fuel Feedstock Freedom Act,” has been introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives that would allow states to opt out of participating in the corn ethanol portion of the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). A state may opt out if a legislature passes and the governor signs legislation in which the state decides against participating in the corn ethanol portion of the RFS. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would then reduce the national volumetric mandate of corn ethanol by the percentage that reflects the national consumption attributed to that state.

FSA County Committee Nominations – USDA announced that the nomination period for local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county committees begins June 15. To be eligible to serve on an FSA county committee, a person must participate or cooperate in a program administered by FSA, be eligible to vote in a county committee election and reside in the local administrative area in which the person is a candidate. FSA will mail ballots to eligible voters beginning on Nov. 4. More information on FSA county committee elections is available at www.fsa.usda.gov/elections.

P. Scott Shearer
Vice President
Bockorny Group
Washington, D.C.