After its August recess, it’s a good bet that Congressional members are returning to Washington with the message that their constituents are very dissatisfied with Congress and the ever increasing partisanship. Congress’ approval rating stands at a low of 13%. With continuing high unemployment, the administration and Congress will be focusing on jobs. President Obama is to address a joint session of Congress on Thursday, Sept. 8, to present his jobs proposal. The House Republican leadership plans to focus on excessive regulations that are killing jobs as a part of their jobs package. All eyes will be on the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction with its first meeting in September. Their charge is to begin the process of trying to agree on $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction measures. This committee will have a key impact on all government programs, including the 2012 farm bill. Other items on the congressional docket will be the fiscal year 2012 appropriations bills and the pending free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.
Net Farm Income will Exceed $100 billion – The USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) is estimating that the 2011 net farm income will reach $103.6 billion. This is an increase of over 30% compared to 2010. The ERS report, “Farm Income and Costs,” also estimates that government farm payments will drop to $10.2 billion, the lowest level since 1997. Production expenses for 2011 are estimated to reach $300 billion, an increase of 11.4% over 2010. The report states, “With prices expected to approach record levels for major crops, a large part of the improvement in earnings for 2011 will be on the crops side. Higher crop prices will cut into profit margins for the livestock sector that had just recovered from major losses suffered when feed costs started escalating in 2007.”
Ag Exports to Remain at $137 Billion – USDA estimates fiscal year 2012 agricultural exports at $137 billion, the same level estimated for 2011. Grain and feed exports are expected to increase as greater corn, feed and fodder outweigh a drop in wheat exports. Oilseeds are forecast down based on lower volumes. Livestock, poultry and dairy products estimates are up on strong, pork, poultry and animal by-products exports. Imports are forecast to reach $105 billion, an 11% increase over 2011. The agricultural trade balance for 2012 is a surplus of $32 billion, the third highest in history.
Repeal Regulations – The House Republican leadership has identified the “10 most harmful job-destroying” regulations that it plans to repeal this year as part of the House Republican’s jobs agenda. The proposed “farm dust” rule is one of the regulations identified. Later this year, the House will consider H.R. 1633, the “Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act,” sponsored by Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R-SD). The legislation would establish a one year prohibition against revising any national ambient air quality standard applicable to coarse particulate matter and limit federal regulation on dust where it is already regulated under state and local laws.
P. Scott Shearer