Washington Advocacy

Peanut industry expresses support for Farm Credit system
The U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing to review the Farm Credit System (FCS). The American Bankers Association (ABA) has made critical statements regarding the Farm Credit System.

The ABA testified before the Senate Committee stating: The Farm Credit System has moved dramatically away from its charter to serve young, beginning and small farmers and ranchers, and now primarily serves large established farms, who could easily obtain credit from the private sector. In fact, the majority of Farm Credit System loans outstanding are in excess of $1 million. Any farmer able to take on over $1 million in debt does not need subsidized credit.

The Georgia Peanut Commission and the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation joined other agricultural organizations in submitting a letter supporting the FCS to the committee. The support letter added the organizations to the hearing record as standing firmly in support of the Farm Credit System.

The letter also addressed key issues concerning commodity prices and instability in the agricultural economy. The letter states: As you know, prices of agricultural commodities have increasingly come under pressure. Concerns are growing that we may be entering a prolonged period of instability in the agricultural economy. Credit availability in good times is singularly important to our respective members. Credit availability in tough times may well mean the difference between producers staying on the land or being forced to abandon their operations.

The letter continues by stating: It is our belief that the Farm Credit System and commercial banks play critical roles in ensuring that farmers, ranchers and other rural Americans have access to constructive, competitive credit on an ongoing basis. The array of credit products offered by both the Farm Credit System and commercial banks, often in a collaborative, cooperative manner, ensures that agricultural producers and their industry sector partners have access to financial tools that are vital to their success.

Appropriations bills stall
The House and Senate Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations bills have stalled on both the House and Senate floors for various reasons. Controversial provisions in a Senate appropriations bill, moving ahead of Agricultural Appropriations, has stalled the Senate process. House leaders are pushing process changes that would prohibit amendments on the floor that are either outside the scope of the legislation or raise issues that could stop floor action. These amendments so far have jammed the legislative process in the House.

With a limited number of days in session prior to the end of the fiscal year, September 30, 2016, Congress is moving closer to requiring a pre-September 30 continuing resolution appropriations package. It is likely the Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations bills will be wrapped into an omnibus bill after the election.

House Agriculture Committee reviews impact of environmental regulations
As part of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee’s Focus on the Farm Economy series, U.S. Congressman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, R-Pennsylvania, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry, held a hearing to highlight the impacts of environmental regulation and voluntary conservation solutions. This is the fifth hearing in the Focus on the Farm Economy series, where each of the six subcommittees are tasked with examining the growing pressure in rural America from the perspective of the subcommittee.

Members heard from two panels of witnesses,including farmers and ranchers who are utilizing voluntary, incentive-based programs to protect and preserve our natural resources, while also maintaining profitable production on their land.

“We are once again reminded that locally-led, voluntary conservation practices work. Through assistance and incentive-based programs provided in the Farm Bill, our nation’s farmers and ranchers are voluntarily reducing soil erosion, increasing wetlands, improving water quality, and preserving farmland and wildlife habitats. However, some government agencies continue to implement over burdensome regulatory requirements, which create financial obstacles for our producers. It is important we continue to support common-sense legislation and voluntary practices that enable farmers and ranchers to continue preserving the health and vitality of our natural resources,” says Subcommittee chairman Thompson.

USDA streamlines crop acreage reporting
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that farmers and ranchers filing crop acreage reports with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and participating insurance providers approved by the Risk Management Agency (RMA) now can provide the common information from their acreage reports at one office and the information will be electronically shared with the other location.

This new process is part of the USDA Acreage Crop Reporting Streamlining Initiative. This interagency collaboration also includes participating private crop insurance agents and insurance companies.
“If you file your report at one location, the data that’s important to both FSA and RMA will be securely and electronically shared with the other location,” says FSA administrator Val Dolcini. “This will avoid redundant and duplicative reporting, and we expect this to save farmers and ranchers time.”