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NAWG Weekly Update: January 12, 2017

NAWG Weekly Update: January 12, 2017

Regulatory Reform Bill Passes in the House
This week the House of Representatives debated and passed H.R. 5, the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2017.  The bill includes several smaller regulatory reform bills to clarify the Administrative Procedures Act and define “high impact rules” and “major guidance” relating to Agency actions taken without a formal rulemaking process.  The bill will improve requirements for final regulations and includes guidance for agencies in completing cost-benefit analysis of the impact of proposed regulations. Also included is the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Act that required agencies to account for the direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of new regulations on small businesses and find flexible ways to reduce them. The bill includes a requirement for advanced notice of proposed rulemaking and when publishing a proposed rule, and agencies must publish plain-language, online summaries of the proposed rule so the public can understand the proposed action.During debate, the House adopted an amendment by Representative Collin Peterson (D-MN), supported by NAWG, that prohibit those working in an official capacity of an agency and those receiving federal funds from the agency from advocating in support of or against a proposed rule, or appeal to the public to undertake advocacy in support of or against the rule.  However, the agencies would continue to be allowed to provide information regarding the rule in an impartial manner. This amendment would address many of the issues that surrounded the Administration’s actions related to the Waters of the U.S. regulation.

House Advances CFTC Reauthorization Bill
This afternoon, the House of Representatives passed legislation to reauthorize the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) on a 239-182 vote.  The Commodity End-User Relief Act (H.R. 238) includes a number of important provisions, including customer protections intended to help prevent another MF Global situation, relief from infeasible recordkeeping requirements in commodity markets, and other provisions that are beneficial to agriculture.  Earlier in the week, the National Association of Wheat Growers sent a letter to Congressional offices with a number of other agricultural associations urging Members of Congress to support the reauthorization bill.  The legislation will now head to the Senate for consideration.

NAWG Highlights Importance of Trade to Incoming Administration
Last week, the National Association of Wheat Growers joined with 15 other producer organizations in sending a letter to President-Elect Mike Pence to highlight the continued importance of trade to the agricultural economy, particularly as half of the U.S. wheat crop is exported

As noted in the letter, “Agriculture and agriculture-related industries contributed $835 billion to the U.S. GDP in 2014, a 4.8 percent share.”  By expanding markets, free trade agreements have the potential to greatly increase the economic contribution of agriculture.  The groups urged the incoming administration to emphasize expanding markets as well to ensure existing agreements are enforced.  “As the Trump Administration assembles its team and politics, U.S. agricultural trade interests must be maintained, not only in existing markets but by expanding access to new markets.”

In sending the letter, NAWG President Stoner noted that “NAWG not only looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and his team in developing effective trade policy for U.S. agriculture but also enforcing existing trade agreements.  America’s farmers are the most productive in the world and compete well in the global market place, given a level playing field.”  Moving forward, NAWG will continue to urge Congress and the incoming Administration to support trade agreements that create new market opportunities for U.S. wheat.

Senate Passes Budget Resolution
Early this morning, the Senate voted 51-48 to adopt a FY 2017 budget resolution that was intended by Congressional leadership to be used to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  As part of the budget resolution process, Senators are able to offer an unlimited number of amendments, and Senators are able to call for votes on those amendments.  On Wednesday, the chamber held what’s colloquially referred to as a “vote-a-rama” where continuous votes were held until the final budget resolution was approved.  The resolution now heads to the House of Representatives where a vote is expected tomorrow.  During House consideration, some amendments could be allowed as well.

If the House passes the budget resolution, it would then go through a conference process where conferees would be able to instruct authorizing Committees in the House and Senate to report a budget reconciliation bill, which would ultimately be used to repeal the ACA.  In the Senate, a reconciliation bill does not require a 60 vote threshold, but only a simple majority to pass.

Looking ahead, we expect that Congress will be taking up a FY 2018 Budget Resolution this spring.  As in the past, opponents of crop insurance and farm programs have often used the budget and appropriations process to come after funding for these critical programs.  NAWG continues to engage Congress to discuss the difficult economic conditions in wheat country and the necessity of maintaining a strong risk management system and a sufficient safety net, and we urge wheat farmers across the country to continue contacting your elected officials to talk about how the Farm Bill is working for you during these difficult times.


Source: National Association of Wheat Growers