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Ag-related amendments part of House CR bill

February 21, 2011
In The News

Brownfield Ag News

By Ken Anderson

The Continuing Resolution passed by the U.S. House of Representatives early Saturday morning contained several amendments of importance to agriculture.

One of them would block the EPA from spending any money to carry out its E15 waiver.  Another would prevent the spending of any federal funds for the rest of the fiscal year on construction of blender pumps or an ethanol storage facility.

The passage of those amendments drew a predictable response from the two major ethanol-lobbying groups.  The Renewable Fuels Association accused the House of “giving oil companies a virtual monopoly over the fueling system” and added, “our dependence on imported oil is neither safe nor sustainable.”  Growth Energy said the House action “would deepen our addiction to foreign oil” and vowed to fight to remove the provisions in the Senate.

The House also passed several amendments designed to circumvent some of the EPA’s proposed environmental regulations.  One would block the EPA’s funding to regulate dust.  Others would stop the EPA from implementing its Total Maximum Daily Load rule for the Chesapeake Bay and the nutrient criteria rule for Florida.   The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association was one of the groups expressing strong support for the amendments.

Two amendments related to farm programs were defeated.  One was an attempt by Wisconsin Representative Ron Kind to end payments to Brazilian cotton interests.  The unusual arrangement stems from a WTO ruling that the current U.S. cotton program is illegal. Critics argued that the amendment could start a trade war with Brazil.

The House also voted against an attempt to cap farm program payments at 250-thousand dollars.  House Ag Committee chair Frank Lucas successfully argued that it was wrong to cut farm program payments now, saying it should be done in the context of the 2012 farm bill.