order non hybrid seeds LandRightsNFarming: Re: (no subject)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Re: (no subject)

On Thu, Oct 13, 2011 at 6:12 AM, <LawrLCL@aol.com> wrote:

Weekly Update, April 27- May 1, 2009

May 4th, 2009

SARE Earns Impressive Support: More than 220 state, regional and national food, farm, conservation and faith groups have signed on to a letter circulated by NSAC in support of increased funding for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE).  That so many organizations stepped up over a short nine day sign on period speaks to the importance of this program to the sustainable agriculture community.

The letter seeks an FY10 appropriation for SARE of $30 million, with $25 million allocated to research and education and $5 million to extension and professional development.

Increased funding will allow SARE to launch two new and important program initiatives.  SARE would be able to initiate an authorized but never before funded state matching grant program to further state and local sustainable food and agriculture research projects.  Increased funding would also allow SARE to move forward with a new set of long-term systems projects to investigate and develop climate friendly farming system innovations.

NSAC submitted the letter as testimony to the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee and is in the process of also delivering it to each member of the House and Senate Appropriations Committee.

NSAC Appropriations Testimony Submitted:  NSAC submitted its FY 10 funding requests to the House Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee, and will repeat the process this coming week with the Senate Subcommittee.  Among the highlights are recommendations to increase SARE, Value-Added Producer Grants, and Rural Micro-enterprise Grants funding up to $30 million each, as well as requests for $5 million each for the new Beginning Farmer Individual Development Accounts (IDA) program and the Organic Data Initiative.

Reminder – Beginning Farmer Grant Proposals due May 13:  A total of $17.2 million is available to fund beginning farmer projects under the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, with applications due May 13.  For more information on the application process, see http://www.csrees.usda.gov/fo/beginningfarmerandrancher.cfm.




LAST WEEK(April 27-May 1)

Congressional Budget Resolution Finalized:  Late Wednesday, April 29, on President Obama's 100th day in office, Congress approved the final version of its FY 10 budget resolution, including procedural instructions that improve chances for health care and student loan reforms this calendar year.  Under reconciliation rules, those two bills are not required to achieve super majorities in the Senate.  The budget resolution did not provide for reconciliation for climate change legislation as originally sought by the White House and the House-passed budget resolution, making chances of passage this year a tougher climb.

The Senate approved the conference report (S. Con. Res. 13) 53-43, following the House 233-193 vote.

The final margin in the House was secured by a trade-off sought by the House Blue Dog caucus of conservative Democrats.  In return for allowing fixes to the Alterative Minimum Tax, middle class tax breaks, and estate taxes, all big ticket items, to go forward without offsets, they received House leadership support for making "pay-go" rules statutory instead of mere operating rules of Congress.  With that deal in place, only 13 of 51 Blue Dogs voted against the budget.

Ironically, making pay-go statutory would also have the effect of turning over control of determining the official cost of legislation from the Congressional Budget Office to the White House Office of Management and Budget, increasing the power of the Administration to work its will.  It is not yet clear whether the Senate would approve of a House-passed measure on statutory pay-go for precisely this reason.

Though widely reported as a victory for President Obama and his budget proposal, the final bill nonetheless took big bites out the President's proposal.  For starters, the budget assumes cuts relative to the President's request of nearly $200 billion over the next five years from non-defense domestic discretionary spending.  For FY 10, $10 billion was lopped off of the President's request for domestic discretionary spending.  In addition, the resolution provides less money for extension of middle class tax cuts than Obama wanted.

In big round numbers, the FY 10 budget anticipated by the resolution would be $3.55 trillion (of which just over $1 trillion is discretionary spending), with more than a third of that total, nearly $1.2 billion, deficit-financed.  Under the assumptions of the resolution, the deficit would shrink to $523 billion, or 14 percent of total expenditures, by 2014.

The inclusion of budget reconciliation for health care reform and for student loan reform is a double edge sword for proponents of those measures.  While it eliminates the possibility of a filibuster in the Senate, it also brings into play the "Byrd rule" which requires that all provisions in a bill under reconciliation procedures to be directly budget-related.  That could greatly complicate the substance of a bill as complex as health care reform.

Review of Civil Rights at USDA:  On Wednesday, April 29, the Department Operations and Oversight Subcommittee of the House Agriculture Committee held a hearing to review the USDA Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights.  Subcommittee Chairman Joe Baca (D-CA) offered opening remarks, echoed by others on the Subcommittee, emphasizing that "USDA has been marked by discrimination for too long."  He said that 14,000 discrimination complaints have been filed against USDA since 2000 and that it is "unacceptable" that a "shockingly low" four of them are currently being investigated.

David Scott (D-GA) congratulated Joe Leonard, Jr. on his appointment and confirmation as USDA Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights.  Scott expressed confidence that Secretary Vilsack "understands the immensity of the problem" of the legacy of discrimination at USDA.

Lisa Shames of the Government Accountability Office explained the findings and recommendations that resulted from a study her office made of long-standing civil rights issues at USDA.  The study found that there is a backlog of discrimination complaints, that USDA's data on minority participation in farm programs is unreliable, and that as a result of limited strategic planning on USDA's part, community groups' access to farm programs has been limited.  GAO recommends that Congress make the "Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights subject to a statutory performance agreement," and establish "a USDA civil rights oversight board."  GAO also recommends "that the Secretary of Agriculture explore the potential for an ombudsman office to help address the civil rights concerns of USDA customers and employees."  Shames and Leonard each said that USDA is acting on these recommendations.