What is in this article?:
• Texas Congressman Mike Conner outlines farm co-op farm bill priorities, MF Global impacts, crop insurance and Cuba trade.
• Conaway says if a new farm bill doesn’t pass then current law — set to expire in September — will be extended “probably for a year, which has been done in the past.”
Issue of strong concern
“Many of the co-ops have come (to Washington, D.C.) and several have appeared before Congressional committees to lay out their plight. This is obviously an issue of strong concern to them and they’re hoping that through the (investigations) the source of the customer funds is identified and full restitution of their dollars, of their margin accounts, can be returned to them.
Although, from our conversations, I don’t think they’re expecting this to happen with great speed.”
On the regulatory side – do you believe there is a need to tweak or put new regulations out regarding the comingling of funds? Or should the law just be enforced as it is?
“I think it’s too early to tell from our standpoint. The (Commodity Futures Trading Commission)is conducting a full investigation.
“Based on that, a couple of questions arise. How was that money transferred? If so, were laws broken as part of that?
“To the extent that laws were broken, it’s pretty hard for securities and financial laws in this country to completely prevent those who are simply determined to break the law.
“In this case, there are a lot of investigations and, I assume, there will be a lot of consequences associated with a number of these actions.
“But if it turns out that was not the case – that the customer funds were able to be used legally and certainly not in a way they were intended to be by those who owned those customer funds – Congress will be looking at what they need to do to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
In the last few days, there have been (lawmakers) warning farmer constituents it is unlikely that a farm bill will be passed in 2012. Your thoughts since you obviously know the political rigors and what’s required behind the scenes? Will we just extend the (2008 farm bill) for another year?
“It’s a tough call.
“No farm bill has ever been easy. I’ve been involved in every farm bill very directly since 1981. In each one, I can tell you that more often than not, people were saying ‘there is no way we’re going to get this done. There are too many obstacles.’ But they always seemed to find a way to get decent farm legislation passed.
“So, I never bet against farm bills.
“However, this one in particular will be really challenging. You can’t be optimistic about it even though you can remain hopeful that the process is somehow completed so producers and those in agri-business can have some idea of what the rules of the game will be for an extended period. (Only) knowing the rules for the next six months is pretty hard to plan by, to run a business by.
“So, we remain hopeful but the obstacles are enormous. It is an election year — that in and of itself is a huge obstacle. Congress typically does very little in presidential election years.”