Friday, July 27, 2007

And... House Ends Farm Bill Debate

Well, the 2007 Farm Bill passed the House today, 231-191. Only 19 Republicans voted for the bill (including my own rep, Denny Rehberg of Montana) and 14 Democrats voted against, meaning a presidential veto is a real threat. The final roll call vote is here. The House press release (you need a strong stomach to read these, I find) is here.

The bill as it stands includes 13 amendments that were passed last night en bloc. These amendments were:

4. Lucas (OK): makes livestock producers eligible for assistance programs whether or not they have Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance coverage.

8. Hastings (FL): authorizes research and conservation programs to address pollinator issues and Colony Collapse Disorder.

9. Arcuri (NY)/Welch (VT)/Gillibrand (NY): advises taking increased cost of production into account when adjusting milk prices.

10. Welch (VT): encourages schools to utilize locally-grown foods wherever possible.

14. Johnson (TX): suggests emphasizing research proposals that “examine the efficacy of current agriculture policies in promoting the health and welfare of economically disadvantaged populations.”

17. Latham (IA): “amends the Household Water Well System Program…to allow the use of in-kind contributions to meet the required federal funding match of 10%.

22. Wu (OR): makes universities working in alternative-energy fields eligible for the biofuels from biomass internship program.

23 (“as modified”-- not sure how it was modified). Clay (MO): offers grants for organic gardens and greenhouses in urban areas.

24. Israel (NY)/Doyle (PA): A couple of what I assume are intended as animal-rights protections: “eliminate the sale of random source animals for research and will prohibit the marketing of medical devices by using live animals in demonstrations to market such devices.”

26. Bordallo (GU): authorizes appropriations for land grant institutions in the territories, for agricultural and food sciences.

28. Emanuel (IL): directs USDA to investigate fraud in which the dead continue to collect farm payments.

30. Hodes (NH)/Arcuri (NY): “The amendment authorizes a grant program for state and local communities and governments known as the Community Wood Energy Program to use low-grade wood biomass in community wood energy systems for state and locally owned businesses such as schools, town halls, and courthouses.” Interested in any comment from the alternative-energy folks on this one.

31:Shuler (NC): allows non-industrial private forest lands to be eligible for restoration funds in the event of insect or disease outbreak.

Amendments that definitely did not make it into the bill:

1. Ron Kind's Farm 21 amendment.

3. Goodlatte (VA):streamlines and adopts one set of terms and conditions of easements” for several conservation programs.

5. Cardoza (CA): brings plant pest inspection duties back to the USDA from the Department of Homeland Security.

There are a number of other amendments whose fate I can't establish, as I don't have C-Span and today's Congressional Record is not yet posted. Possibly there will be updates on those later.

Yesterday’s Des Moines Register
discusses the fact that the bill cuts $4.8 billion from the Conservation Security Program, authored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) in 2002, in order to fund other priorities. These cuts will prevent any additional farmers from signing up from the program, “designed to reward growers for farming practices that reduce erosion and improve wildlife habitat,” until 2012.

Blog for Rural America has a post up taking the House to task for its failure to genuinely and effectively address payment limits, despite a lot of rhetoric to the contrary.

The Senate is due to take up the Farm Bill in September.


More on the taxes-Boo! partisan dust-up of the past couple days...

The AP story reads:

Democrats rallied around the bill, however, after debate turned bitterly partisan over a tax measure included to partially finance an increase of some $4 billion for food stamp and other nutrition programs. The plan would impose new taxes on certain multinational companies with U.S. subsidiaries.

Democrats said they were closing a loophole and cracking down on foreign tax-dodgers, while Republicans called it a massive tax hike that would affect manufacturers that provide millions of jobs in their districts. The spat sapped the farm bill of much of its customary bulletproof regional appeal, turning many rural Republicans against the measure.

David Rogers, in today's Wall Street Journal (h/t, explains what, specifically, is behind the rhetoric:

At issue are what rules determine withholding rates on earnings by the U.S. units of foreign corporations. In general, companies are subject to a gross basis U.S. tax at a 30% rate, but tax treaties often reduce or eliminate withholding taxes imposed by the U.S. The United Kingdom and many European partners have zero-percent rates, for example, while Japan has negotiated a 10% rate and India a 15% rate, according to Treasury.

“Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D., Texas), who helped craft the provision, said companies can exploit the treaty system by funneling their U.S. earnings through a financial unit in a treaty country, such as the U.K. or Netherlands, while the real headquarters is a Caribbean tax haven without a tax-treaty agreement with the U.S. gives us the Democratic retort to the "massive tax hike" accusations:
However, House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota) indicated earlier this week that, “Apparently, the Bush Administration and some in the Republican leadership care more about defending the ability of foreign companies to exploit a loophole in the U.S. tax system than they do about supporting the hardworking families and farmers in this country. I hope that they will reconsider their opposition and join us in supporting this Farm Bill that represents a new direction for agriculture policy."

OrangeClouds115 at Daily Kos uses a clever ploy to get the rank and file interested in the passage of the Farm Bill through the House. She also evinces her usual straightforward good sense:

Those who profit big off of America's ag policy RELY on everyone else thinking this stuff is boring and irrelevant. We've talked about getting involved in the farm bill debate for a year now, so now let's put our money where our mouths are. If we want to turn around half a century of pro-Big Ag, anti-American people farm policy, we've gotta pay attention.

Right on.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

great work, bloggin the farm bill and everything else here.