In a move that may raise a few eyebrows, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule with potential to greatly expand its regulatory reach, although scientific justification of the rule has not been reviewed. It seems the agency has gotten the cart before the horse in yet another attempt to gain greater control over what is considered “a water of the United States”.
U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) recently wrote the Administration’s Office of Management and Budget requesting withdrawal of the proposed rule pending review of the scientific literature upon which it would be based.
To read more and view a copy of the letter, please visit Farm Futures.
The Alabama Farmers Federation and the American Farm Bureau Federation also sent comments regarding the proposed rule.
Last week concluded with EPA’s proposal to lower the renewable fuels mandate for 2014 by nearly 3 billion gallons. The Renewable Fuels Standard, enacted in 2007, sets a minimum number of gallons of renewable fuels that must be blended with petroleum in the United States annually. A 60-day comment period will open once the proposal has been published in the Federal Register, most likely sometime this week. For more from Agri-Pulse, click here.
Farm bill conferees and staffers will continue the task of finding common ground in the days to come. There is still some optimism that a final bill can be delivered by the end of the year, but probably sometime after Thanksgiving. Here are a couple of updates on the farm bill from The Hill and DTN.
The following text regarding catfish fair trade rules was provided by the office of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) led a bipartisan letter to the House-Senate Farm Bill Conference urging them to preserve the USDA’s foreign catfish inspection program as they work on finalizing the Farm Bill. After sending the letter today, Sen. Sessions stated:
“I am going to fight for these jobs. Our catfish farmers should not be unfairly disadvantaged by foreign imports that skirt the rules. It is only right that foreign catfish producers comply with health and safety standards. All Americans benefit when we defend the legitimate interests of American workers on the world stage.”
A full text of the letter follows. Continue reading
A conference committee charged with resolving key differences in the Senate and House versions of the farm bill will hold its first formal meeting today at 2:30 p.m. (EDT), and can be viewed here.
House and Senate staffers have been meeting for weeks to reach a compromise ahead of the first formal meeting. While a number of issues are yet to be resolved, the conference could set the stage for completion of a farm bill this year. Continue reading
A federal court ruling yesterday is good news for poultry producers in Alabama. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia ruled in favor of West Virginia poultry farmer Lois Alt in a lawsuit she brought against the Environmental Protection Agency.
The ruling found ordinary stormwater from the area surrounding Alt’s poultry houses is exempt from National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requirements. Continue reading
After a seemingly endless period of squabbling in Washington over the farm bill, funding the federal government and Obamacare, the U.S. House of Representatives finally found a bill that seemed to bring everyone together, at least for one day.
Yesterday, the U.S. House passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) by a vote of 417 to 3. All six Alabama representatives voted in favor of final passage of the bill. Continue reading
Congress passed a bill late Wednesday to reopen the government for three months and temporarily lift the nation’s debt ceiling, setting up another confrontation early next year. The deal negotiated by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) ends the partial government shutdown with an extension of current spending levels through Jan. 15, while suspending the $16.7 trillion borrowing limit until February.
The bill also contains a requirement that the Obama administration verify the incomes of those applying for health insurance subsidies. Additionally, a budget conference will be required where a bipartisan committee from both chambers will be tasked with agreeing to budget numbers and crafting a deal to address long-term deficit reduction.
Sens. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) opposed the measure, as did Reps. Martha Roby (R-Ala.), Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), and Mo Brooks (R-Ala.). Voting in favor of the agreement were Reps. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) and Terri Sewell (D-Ala.). To read statements by Alabama’s delegation on the vote, click on their names above.