Congress has adopted Congressman Tom Latham’s (R-IA) amendment that provides for a one-year delay in the implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rule that requires mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from manure management systems. Congressman Latham indicated that EPA’s proposed rule would increase costs while doing “nothing to improve the environmental health of rural America.” The amendment was attached to the fiscal year 2010 Interior Appropriations conference report.
Senate Begins Hearings on Climate Change — The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held three days of hearings on Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Barbara Boxer’s (D-CA) climate change bill. The hearings indicated a number of issues that are dividing the Senate, including agriculture, cost to the economy, nuclear power, emissions allowances, indirect land use and the role of developing countries. Additional hearings will be held by other Senate committees including the agriculture and finance committees.
Stop USDA Swine Facility Loans — The Campaign for Family Farms has sent USDA a letter calling for USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) to “immediately suspend all direct or guaranteed loans for the construction or expansion of specialized hog or poultry production facilities.” The letter stated: “USDA is using taxpayer dollars for bonus pork and poultry buys, ostensibly to stabilize prices resulting from the very overproduction that USDA is facilitating through direct and guaranteed loans. Despite the current overproduction situation and subsequent oversupply in the hog and poultry sectors, FSA loans are continuing to be made for specialized hog and poultry facilities, which necessarily increase production and depress prices.” The Campaign for Family Farms includes Missouri Rural Crisis Center, Land Stewardship Project (MN) and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. Others supporting the effort include: Rural Advancement Foundation International – USA, Campaign for Contract Agriculture Reform, National Family Farm Coalition, Farm Aid, Food & Water Watch and Food Democracy Now. USDA has suspended direct and guaranteed loan financing for hog facilities for a period of time beginning in January 1999.
Reciprocal Trade — Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY) have introduced the “Reciprocal Market Access Act,” which would force the administration to reduce trade barriers in other countries before allowing those countries to sell their products in the United States. The bill would have the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) eliminate foreign market barriers, including non-tariff barriers, before reducing U.S. tariffs. USTR would be given enforcement authority to reinstate the tariff if the foreign government does not honor its commitment to remove the barriers. Currently, U.S. negotiators do not have the flexibility to trade a tariff reduction for elimination of a non-tariff barrier. The legislation would require the president to provide a certification to the Congress in advance of agreeing to a modification of any existing duty on any product and that sectoral reciprocal market access has been obtained. Additionally, if trading partners do not grant similar market access or if they erect new barriers to U.S. exports, the United States may withdraw tariff concessions. The process would be triggered by either a private-sector or congressional petition.
P. Scott Shearer