Delay on 2012 Farm Bill

Published in the November 2013 Issue Published online: Nov 06, 2012 Luther Markwart, Executive Vice President
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2012 Elections: By the time you read this article, Americans will have made their choices to elect their local, state and national leaders, going to the ballot box with a high level of frustration over the political bickering and dysfunction within Congress and between the White House and Congress. Voters demand and deserve quality leadership that addresses the pressing economic issues facing our nation and achieves quality results.

As one U.S. Marine Medal of Honor recipient noted,

"Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution. It represents the wise choice of many alternatives."

We are at a critical time in our nation's history where political parties, our leaders and the rank and file must provide quality leadership in an economic environment where critical policy decisions must be made as the sands of time move swiftly through the hourglass.

When Congress returns to Washington on November 12 for its lame-duck session, it will spend its first week reorganizing, based on the election results. Congressional leadership will determine the priority of issues to be addressed when it returns again on November 26. It will then take the week of the 19th off for Thanksgiving. Given the number of significant legislative issues that were delayed until the elections, we expect a marathon of congressional activity between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

2012 Farm Bill: With the expiration of the 2008 Farm Bill on September 30, Congress must now face the likelihood of passing a bill in lame duck, or extending the current bill for some period of time (up to a year) and rewriting it next year. We expect those decisions to be made no later than the week of November 12. Your grower leaders stand ready once again to call on members of Congress to support U.S. sugar policy.

Biotech: On September 25, Judge Bates of the U.S. District Court of Washington, D.C., dismissed all challenges to the interim partial deregulation of Roundup Ready Sugarbeets as "moot" because the interim deregulation has expired as a result of APHIS' announcement of non-regulated status (full approval) of RRSB on July 20, 2012. The court found that the likelihood of these disputes over partial deregulation "repeating" was speculative and remote. This decision maintains farmers' choice to plant this technology. One legal challenge remains, an appeal by the Center for Food Safety with regards to sugarbeet stecklings, which is before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco.

2012 Loan Rates: The refined beet sugar processing regions and applicable 2012 crop loan rates in cents per pound of refined beet sugar are adjusted regionally based on distance to the market: Michigan and Ohio-25.57; Minnesota and the eastern half of North Dakota-23.93; the north eastern quarter of Colorado, Nebraska and the south eastern quarter of Wyoming-24.44; Montana, the north western quarter of Wyoming and the western half of North Dakota-24.01; Idaho, Oregon and Washington-23.30; and California-24.84.

2012 crop-large and sweet (surplus beets): It was clear in early August that our industry could be facing an abundance of sugarbeets that would exceed our processing capacity. Given the drought's reduction of available cattle feed, it made sense for cooperatives to put plans in place to sell surplus beets to dairy and livestock producers in our growing regions. We alerted USDA/White House and national dairy and cattlemen organizations that we may have surplus beets to help stretch feed rations. This would clearly be a win-win for beet growers and livestock producers. Surplus amounts (if any) will not be confirmed until the end of harvest, because weather in September and October can have a significant impact on yields.

2013 ASGA Annual Meeting: Grower leaders from across the country will gather to get the latest information on what the election means for the future of U.S. agriculture and sugar policy. We will examine the legislative agenda, politics and priorities in the 113th Congress; the operation of sugar policy under the 2008 Farm Bill and the provisions of the 2012 Farm Bill; biotechnology; an update on the U.S.-Mexico sugar market; and other topics that will take center stage at the annual meeting in San Diego, February 3-5. It is a meeting that no grower or industry supplier should miss. You can see the program, register for the meeting and make hotel reservations online at www.americansugarbeet.org. If you need other information, call the D.C. office at (202) 833-2398.