Farm Policy Roundup – March 1, 2013

Rancher with lassoCongressional activity to avert sequestration stalled this week and today the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration kicked in, making mandatory reductions across the federal government. Specific cuts at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are estimated to be to the tune of $2 billion for the remainder of fiscal year 2013. USDA has noted that about $222 million of that amount will come from mandatory and discretionary conservation funding. Specifics are not yet known as to how federal agencies will implement cuts under their respective jurisdictions, but significant impact to delivery of public services is expected.

This week, American Farmland Trust assisted in publishing a new white paper by Indiana farmer and former USDA Deputy Secretary Jim Moseley titled Conservation Compliance: A 25-Year Legacy of Stewardship. The purpose of the white paper is to provide factually based information to clarify myths and misinformation about reattaching conservation compliance to crop insurance with key industry groups. The paper was released broadly to the media as well as to key congressional committee staff and stakeholder groups.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Sarah Bittleman has been appointed as EPA Agriculture Advisor to the Administrator. Bittleman was a senior adviser to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on energy and environment and succeeds Larry Elworth who left EPA in December.

USDA has announced the appointment of Brandon Willis as administrator of the Risk Management Agency (RMA).  Willis had been serving as the acting administrator. Prior to serving at RMA, Willis served as senior advisor to Secretary Tom Vilsack on commodity programs and disaster assistance, and also served in the Farm Service Agency as deputy administrator for programs under the Production Emergencies and Compliance Division, Conservation and Environmental Programs Division, and Price Support Division.

About the Author: Jeremy Peters is Director of Federal Policy at American Farmland Trust.

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  • Random Quote

    Simply put, conservation and farmland protection are at a crossroads. Land and healthy soil are the strategic resources critical to our nation’s ability to feed itself and to secure our nation’s future. Conservation programs are vital to maintaining those resources. — Jon Scholl, President, American Farmland Trust