Archive for September, 2010

EPA Gets Slammed…Again

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was the target of some very harsh criticism at a forum in Washington, D.C. Wednesday.

The participants of the RASG gather prior to yesterdays forum.

The event, which was hosted by the GOP-sponsored Rural America Solutions Group, was entitled “The EPA’s Assault on Rural America”.   One of those testifying was Tamara Thies, chief environmental counsel for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.  Thies accused the EPA of, in her words, “waging an unprecedented war to end modern production of animal agriculture.

Thies cited several examples of EPA’s over-regulation, including its proposal to regulate dust.  She says under such rules, farmers and ranchers could be fined for everyday activities like driving a tractor down a dirt road or tilling a field.

You can watch the video of the forum here.

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Small-Business Law Could Help Farmers

Farmers can receive sizable tax write-offs under the small-business law that was signed by President Barack Obama on Monday. The new law raised the threshold on Section 179 expenses from the current limit of $250,000 to $500,000 for tax years beginning in 2010 and 2011. In the past, this deduction did not apply to purchases exceeding $800,000, but the new threshold was raised to $2 million.

With commodity prices rebounding and relatively high crop yields, some farmers are expected to take advantage of the tax benefit. “Now a lot of grain can be reported as farm equipment on the tax return,” said CPA Andy Biebl, a principal with Larson Allen in Minneapolis.

AFBF supported passage of the small-business law

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Global Food Prices Up thanks to Russian Embargo!

No country has disrupted grain markets over the years more dramatically than Russia — perpetrator of the infamous “great grain robbery,” when the Soviet Union secretly bought up a quarter of U.S. wheat stocks after a poor harvest in 1971.

Even with the embargo, USDA estimates food prices will rise 15 percent in Russia over the next year. Clayton Yeutter, who served as secretary of agriculture in the first Bush administration, calls the embargo “singularly unhelpful” in a period of economic uncertainty.

Even as prices rise,  China and India are sitting on very large wheat stocks — a reflection of policies heavily tilted toward protecting domestic consumers. India’s surplus stocks are twice the government’s desired level and China’s amount to 43 percent of its total yearly grain production, according to USDA estimates. China has discouraged exports since 2008 and imported some wheat this year. Indian exports are negligible because the government has been supporting the price of wheat paid to farmers at above the world price.

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More Lawmakers Oppose EPA Dust Regulation

Yesterday, a group of US Representatives wrote a detailed letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) opposing the July 2010 proposed Particulate Matter (PM) standards. Lawmakers state the proposed policy assessment, “lays the foundation for establishing the most stringent and unparalleled regulation of dust in our nation’s history. We urge the EPA to refrain from going down this path.” The letter goes on to read that scientific studies are “ambiguous” in support of the regulation tightening and thus can not be used as foundational support.

The letter represents additional push back from lawmakers. Last week members on the Senate Ag Committee questioned EPA Administrator Jackson about whether her agency “has it in” for American Ag.

Lawmakers respect efforts for clean and health environment, but do not support and find scientific evidence to not support the need for revising the dust standard. Tightening dust regulations will only hurt the rural communities, not benefit them. Some seventy-five US House members, including Colorado Representatives Betsy Markey and Mike Coffeman, signed the letter to Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the EPA.

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Pueblo Chieftain: Arkansas Water at Risk

Transfers from 1950 to the present could take water off one-third of historically irrigated land in the Arkansas River basin — nearly 150,000 of 450,000 acres, according to information compiled by The Pueblo Chieftain today.

The paper notes that an additional 63,000 acres could be taken out of production in the next 40 years to meet a municipal “gap” in water supply. Read the entire piece here.

Washington Leadership Trip

President Foutz, Vice President Shawcroft, and Board Members Tom Verquer and Ron Nereson traveled to D.C. last week to speak with Colorado's congressional delegation about the Death Tax and a runaway EPA.

Washington Recap and Forecast

After a longer than usually August recess Congress reconvened the 2nd week of September. As is normal in an election year, Congress has not handled major policy. Instead it is focusing on smaller, noncontroversial bills which members can campaign on. With the election right around the corner (November 2nd is Election Day) this looks like the last week Congress will be in session before going back into recess to allow members to campaign. Here is a quick recap of what happened in Washington the week of September 20.

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