October 17, 2014
HOUSE REPUBLICANSANNOUNCE 2015 LEGISLATIVE AGENDA OnTuesday, House Republican leaders unveiled their 2015 legislative agenda. Theprimary elements of their proposal include improving public safety, ethicsreforms, a balanced budget and education funding. They did not addressadditional tax reforms or same-sex marriage. The priorities as outlined bySpeaker Bosma are:
- Education: Increase base funding for K-12 education, adjust the school funding formula in order to address broad disparities in per-pupil funding at schools statewide, craft and implement incentives for school districts to consolidate, and create a tax credit for teachers who buy classroom materials with their own money.
- Ethics reform: Improve disclosure laws to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
- Public safety: Look at toughening sentencing guidelines for dangerous criminals, increasing funding for local community corrections, adding funding to address domestic violence and providing incentives to the private sector to help reduce Indiana’s infant mortality rate.
The Speaker said that thecurrent school funding formula creates a disparity of up to $4,000 per pupilthat hits suburban and rural school districts the hardest. He also saidconsolidation needs to be encouraged to reduce overhead and administrationcosts. No figure was given as to how much increased funding would be dedicatedto schools or how those dollars would be tied to consolidation.
In a statement, HouseMinority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, said the GOP agenda “soundedlike they were reading from a book written by House Democrats.” He praised theGOP plan to boost funding for schools, but said GOP leaders were the samepeople who “took a meat cleaver to them time and time again.” He went on to saythat, “vouchers and other think-tank experiments kept getting the tenderloin,while public schools got the gristle.”
GET OUT THE AG VOTE Message to IndianaFarmers: Please take time from a bountiful harvest to support ag-friendlycandidates. Remind your farming friends, family and neighbors about theimportant election coming up on Tuesday, Nov. 4. Remind them that agricultureespecially needs friendly legislators in the Indiana General Assembly toaddress priority issues like rapidly escalating farmland taxes, unwelcomeinvoluntary annexation, protection of water resources for agriculture and itemsin the state budget that impact ag and those living in rural areas.
Please refer to theelection insert in the most recent issue of The Hoosier Farmer (dated Oct. 6)that lists all the candidates endorsed by Indiana Farm Bureau ELECT. Theseendorsements were based on their record of service to or potential to serveIndiana farmers and the agricultural sector.
RESPONSES NEEDED INTAX POSTCARD CAMPAIGN BY MAIL OR ONLINE FORM The October 6 editionof The Hoosier Farmer also included a simple, self-addressed, postage-paidpostcard that asks farmer members to provide Indiana Farm Bureau with theirmost recent property tax information. An online form is also availablehere.
Since most members willwrite checks to their county treasurer before the November 10 payment deadline,this information should be available without leaving home. The card asks fortax information on rented land because escalating property taxes are affectingparties on both sides of that relationship in very real ways.
Legislators need to hearthe frustration farmers are facing with taxes that are way too high and pricesfor this fall’s crop that are very low – even though yields may be at recordlevels.
By completing the postcard,the information will then be ready when farmers ask legislators to supportfarmland tax relief. Indiana Farm Bureau’s lobbying team will use theinformation to give real life examples of the level of property tax paid byeach farming operation – whether the land is owned or rented. These exampleswill illustrate the heavy tax burden that has materialized for farmers over thelast few years, while other taxpayers have seen their bills go down or remainstable. The postcard does not request any information about income orincome taxes and will only be used by Indiana Farm Bureau to emphasize theheavy burden property taxes have become for farmers across the state.
WATERS OF THE U.S. COMMENT PERIOD EXTENDED The EPA and the Army Corps have extended the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) comment period to Friday, Nov. 14 to provide the public with additional time to comment on the Science Advisory Board’s review of the proposed rule, which is expected in mid-October. This development provides additional opportunities to comment. Farm Bureau members are urged to submit their comments opposing the proposed rule by the November 14 deadline if they have not already done so.
It is also important tosubmit comments to Senators Donnelly and Coats asking them to urge the Senateto take action on HR5078, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a bipartisan vote.HR 5078 would prohibit the agencies from finalizing this version of the ruleand requires them to work with state and local government to address the issueof what legally should be considered federally regulated water. Farmers,homeowners, business owners and representatives of local government can submitcomments here.
EPA ANNOUNCES FINALDECISION TO REGISTER DOW ENLIST DUO™ The EPA this week made a final decisionto register the herbicide Enlist Duo™ to manage the problem of resistant weeds.The pesticide is for use in controlling weeds in corn and soybeansgenetically-engineered to tolerate 2,4-D and glyphosate. The agency’sdecision reflects a large body of science and an understanding of the risk ofpesticides to human health and the environment.
This assessment is thethird time in recent years that EPA has evaluated the safety of 2,4-D and thesafety finding is consistent with past assessments. EPA comprehensivelyreviewed 2,4-D in 2005, once more in 2012 and now again in 2014 in response tothe current application.
Resistant weeds infestapproximately 70 million acres of American farmland, challenging farmers’ability to raise a healthy crop. Enlist Duo™ will help farmers control toughweeds while enabling them to continue using beneficial farming practices, suchas conservation tillage.
EPA is registering thepesticide in six states: IL, IN, IA, OH, SD, and WI. The agency isaccepting comments until Nov. 14, 2014 (30 days) on whether to register EnlistDuo™ in ten more states: AR, KA, LA, MN, MO, MS, NE, OK, TN, and ND.
To view Dow’s formal pressrelease, clickhere.
RESOURCES AVAILABLETO HELP FARMERS CHOOSE APPROPRIATE FARM BILL PROGRAM The new crop programs in the2014 farm bill include Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage(PLC), which are cornerstones of the commodity farm safety net programs in the2014 farm bill. To help farmers choose between ARC and PLC, USDA helpedcreate online tools that allow farmers to enter information about theiroperation and see projections about what each program will mean for them underpossible future scenarios. The new tools are now available at www.fsa.usda.gov/arc-plc
The USDA also provided $3million to the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at theUniversity of Missouri and the Agricultural and Food Policy Center (AFPC) atTexas A&M (co-leads for the National Association of Agricultural and FoodPolicy), along with the Universityof Illinois (lead for the National Coalition for Producer Education) todevelop the new programs.
Starting Monday, Sept. 29,2014, farm owners could begin visiting their local Farm Service Agency (FSA)offices if they want to update their yield history and/or reallocate baseacres, the first step before choosing which new program best serves their riskmanagement needs.
USDA has formally announcedthe key 2014 farm bill dates that farm owners and producers need to know, whichinclude:
FromSept. 29, 2014 to Feb. 27, 2015, land owners may visit their local Farm ServiceAgency office to update yield history and/or reallocate base acres;
FromNov. 17, 2014 to March 31, 2015, producers make a one-time election of eitherARC or PLC for the 2014 through 2018 crop years;
Frommid-April 2015 through summer 2015, producers will sign contracts for the 2014and 2015 crop years; and
InOct. 2015, payments for 2014 crop year will be made, if needed.
USDA ANNOUNCES CROPINSURANCE FOR DIVERSIFIED OPERATIONS Last week the USDA announced that apremium subsidy has been established to offer more affordable protection toeligible diversified farm operations, as part of the new Whole-Farm RevenueProtection insurance policy. The new policy will offer fruit and vegetablegrowers and producers with diversified farms selling commodities to wholesalemarkets, local and regional markets, farm identity preserved markets, or directmarkets, more flexible, affordable risk management coverage options.
The new policy will offer awhole-farm premium subsidy to farms with two or more commodities as long asminimum diversification requirements are met. This will provide diversifiedfarms a higher premium subsidy than previously available. Farms with only onecommodity will continue to receive the standard subsidy rate used for basicunits.
Whole-farm insurance allowsfarmers to insure all of the crops and livestock on their farm under oneinsurance policy rather than insuring each commodity separately. The coveragelevels can range from 50 to 85 percent. The new Whole-Farm Revenue ProtectionPolicy will be offered as a pilot program for the 2015 insurance year.
More information, includingavailability of the new policy, will be available mid-November at www.rma.usda.gov.
CLINE DISCUSSESINTERNATIONAL TRADE POLICY&Indiana Farm Bureau’s national policy advisor, KyleCline, participated in a panel discussion recently as part of Jobs andEconomic Growth for Indianapolis: How the TTIP Will Help, a program sponsoredby Eli Lilly and the Trans-AtlanticBusiness Council. Cline highlighted the importance of international tradeand exports to the agriculture industry and the potential effects of theTransatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) as a way to furtherexpand market access. Other program speakers included Eli Lilly Senior VicePresident Dave Ricks, Trans-Atlantic Business Council Director-General and CEOTim Bennett, and U.S. Congressman Todd Young.
The TTIP is a comprehensivetrade and investment agreement being negotiated between the United States andthe European Union. The negotiations aim to expand the world’s largestcommercial relationship with $1 trillion of trade in goods and servicesannually and $3.7 trillion in two-way direct investment. The U.S. exported $12billion in agricultural products to the EU in 2013 while the EU exported $17.3billion in agricultural products to the U.S. Indiana’s agriculture industryexported $3.4 billion worth of primary commodities and processed goods globallyin 2010, accounting for 11 percent of all state exports. About half of allagriculture exports were soybeans and related products.
Read more about FarmBureau’s efforts regarding TTIP here.
October is the month tovisit Indiana’s corn mazes and pumpkin patches. To find a maze or patch closeto you, clickhere.
Ifyou enjoy nostalgic or fun short stories of life on the farm, clickhere. Sit back and enjoy.