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La. Farm Bureau/Radio Network‏

October 29, 2013

Farm Bill Passage Urged

More than 250 organizations, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, have sent a letter to House and Senate agriculture committee members and leadership advocating passage of a five-year farm bill as soon as possible. The groups are urging Congress to move forward on a unified farm bill that preserves a five-year authorization for all programs, while continuing the partnership between the nutrition and farm communities.

In the letter, the groups cautioned against ending provisions that would reinstate permanent farm law from last century. "For decades, the threat of reinstatement of the long-outdated policies of the 1938 and 1949 acts have served as strong motivation for Congress to enact new farm bills," said the letter. "Repealing those acts and making the 2013 farm bill commodity title permanent law could make it difficult to generate sufficient political pressure to adjust the commodity safety net provisions should conditions in production agriculture change." The groups said they are also concerned that if Title I of the 2013 farm bill is made permanent, other important farm and rural programs covered in other titles would risk not being reauthorized if the bill expires after five years. "If this should occur and we revert to permanent law, then programs covering conservation, forestry, research, energy, rural development, horticulture, trade, etc., could be left to the will of the appropriations process, likely with limited funding and little opportunity to update or adjust to meet changing needs in agriculture and rural communities," said the letter. "We also fear that a farm bill without a meaningful nutrition title will make it difficult, if not impossible, for the House and Senate to reach a bipartisan agreement on a final version that can be signed by the president." The letter was sent by organizations representing farmers and ranchers, conservation, rural development, finance, forestry, energy, trade and crop insurance companies.

Louisiana Crops Keep Looking Good

According to the Louisiana office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, there were almost seven full days suitable for field work last week with soil moisture supplies rated 68% adequate. The cotton and soybean harvest made progress with improved field conditions. Sugarcane planted reached 100%. The sweet potato harvest reached 88%. Rice producers continued to harvest the ratoon crop and winter wheat planting was 11 points ahead of this time last year. Winter pasture planting continued while cattlemen were still harvesting the late hay crop. 92% of the states cotton crop has now been harvested, 96% of the soybean crop and 25% of the sugarcane crop. 8% of the winter wheat crop has emerged. And in case you're wondering about nest year's crawfish season, those producers are now flooding their ponds and continue to monitor water quality.

No Plans For House Immigration Vote

POLITICO has reported the House Republican leadership does not plan to hold a vote on immigration reform legislation before the end of the year. There are reportedly a number of reasons why immigration reform will not come up in the 19 days the House is scheduled to be in session before year's end. For one - sources say there's growing skepticism that the party's preferred piecemeal immigration bills could garner the support of all Republicans - which would be necessary if Democrats didn't lend their votes. Republican leadership also doesn't see anyone uniting around a single plan. There also seems to be a desire to stay out of a negotiating process with the Senate and a level of skepticism with the President. There's still a chance things could change. POLITICO notes Majority Leader Eric Cantor is eager to get something passed by the end of the year. Speaker John Boehner has publicly signaled he prefers to move forward this year on an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws. If there is significant Republican support and they can garner enough Democratic support on piecemeal bills - immigration reform could still move forward. For supporters - the big concern is that pushing immigration reform to 2014 - an election year - could make it even tougher to get legislation through the deeply divided Congress. Florida Representative Mario Diaz-Balart said every day that goes by makes it more difficult to get this issue solved.

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