DC Recap


House of Representatives:

House floor:

The House of Representatives adjourned on Friday, June 30 for August recess. With Senate passage of the H.R. 1586, the House will reconvene on August 10, 2010 for a short duration to consider amendments made by the Senate to H.R. 1586.

House committee:

No House committees met for the week of August 2.

United States Senate:

Senate floor:

Action was very light in the Senate this past week. The Senate passed H.R.1586, the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act. The House-passed text of the FAA authorization was replaced by the Senate by an amendment sponsored by Sens. Reid (D-NV) and Murray (D-WA) which includes $26.1 billion in federal bailouts for states that is partially offset with permanent tax increases and rescissions. The amended version of the bill passed the Senate on Thursday, August 5, 2010, by a vote of 61-39.

The Senate also passed the confirmation of Elena Kagan of Massachusetts, to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the U.S.

The Senate adjourned until Sept. 13 without addressing the estate tax issue. If Congress fails to act before Jan. 1, estate taxes will be reinstated with a $1 million per person exemption and 55 percent top rate. Farm Bureau is supporting a proposal offered by Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) to phase-in a $5 million exemption and 35 percent tax rate over 10 years. Stepped up basis is included in their proposal.

Senate Committees:

On August 4th, the Senate Committee on Agriculture held a hearing to review U.S. Agricultural Trade Policy and the Farm Bill’s Trade Title.

Administration:

EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced this week that it will phase-out the use of the pesticide endosulfan by 2016 after reaching a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the manufacturers. EPA will begin phasing out the use of endosulfan by July 31, 2012 and it will be completely phased out by July 31, 2016.

Endosulfan, first registered in the 1950s, is a broad spectrum organochlorine insecticide used on a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, cereal grains, and cotton, as well as ornamental shrubs, trees, vines, and ornamentals for use in commercial agricultural settings. Endosulfan has no residential uses. Crops with the highest use in 2006 – 2008 included tomato, cucurbit, potato, apple, and cotton. The use of endosulfan decreased overall from 2001 to 2008.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published a notice in the Federal Register proposing to extend the compliance deadline for facilities that must prepare a plan mandated by the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule. The existing deadline is Nov. 10, 2010. Under the proposal published in the Federal Register today (available here), the compliance deadline would be changed to Nov. 10, 2011. Additionally, the agency is proposing to delay further the compliance date for facilities with milk containers under federal or state law; the compliance date for these facilities would be one year from the effective date of a final rule specifically addressing SPCC requirements for milk containers. The EPA has requested comments on its proposal with the deadline Aug. 18, 2010.

USDA

USDA was directed in the 2008 Farm Bill to carry out a market news education program and improve its system of disseminating livestock Mandatory Price Reporting information. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) introduced an enhanced system of electronic reporting for cattle pricing information last month. AMS developed the “Cattle Dashboard” to add an improved user interface, including tools for data visualization, to its primary internet-based portal. The Cattle Dashboard feature is available on the AMS website.

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