Conservation

The CR restores funding to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), but reduces the cap on acreage enrolled in the program this year by 740,000 acres. Following the reduction, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will enroll only 12 million acres in the program in FY2013. This was a priority for ASA within the larger discussion of budget constraints and farm programs.

Regulatory

The CR included an amendment introduced by Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) that postpones the enforcement date for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) specifications, which would have required that oil storage facilities with a capacity of over 1,320 gallons make structural improvements to reduce the possibility of oil spills. The plan requires farmers to construct a containment facility, like a dike or a basin, which must retain 110 percent of the fuel in the container.

The rule is now postponed until the end of FY13 on Sept. 30. ASA strongly supported this postponement and is supporting legislation that would adjust the minimum capacity upward to 10,000 gallons while the aggregate level on a production facility would move to 42,000 gallons. The proposal would also place a greater degree of responsibility on the farmer or rancher to self-certify compliance if it exceeds the exemption level.

Biotechnology

Also included in the CR was the ASA-supported Farmer Assurance Provision, language that states farmers may continue to plant seeds bearing traits that have been deregulated by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) without threat of disruption as a result of court decisions.

The provision addresses the potential for protracted delays in commercializing new traits pending court-ordered environmental impact reviews. Finally, the provision only applies to biotech traits that have completed the required regulatory review process, and does not restrict the right to challenge USDA’s determination that a trait does not pose a plant pest risk.

Livestock

Finally, ASA welcomes provisions included in the CR that shift funding within USDA to ensure the continuation of inspections of packinghouses and slaughterhouses, averting potential furloughs for the nation’s meat inspectors and the resulting shut-down of slaughterhouses and processing plants that would have very negatively affected the livestock industry.

More than 98 percent of the soybean meal produced in the U.S. goes to the livestock sector in the form of animal feed, and disruptions within that industry adversely impact soybean farmers as well.

(For more from the ASA, see http://www.soygrowers.com/.

 

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