Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to johnc@cfra.org.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Budget Conference Looms

Senate Returns to Washington Next Week

Ferd Hoefner, Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, fhoefner@msawg.org

URGENT ACTION:

Thanks to everyone who have worked hard against final passage of the Budget Reconciliation conference report. Please keep the phone calls coming at least through the end of next week. We need lots of messages, especially to House GOP moderates, urging them to vote against the budget cutting package when and if it hits the floor. If you need any assistance with targeting or with message, please contact us.

The message: Vote NO on the budget reconciliation spending cuts conference report. Cutting hundreds of thousands of people from the food stamps rolls and destroying the Conservation Security Program, the CRP conservation buffer initiative, the Value-Added Producer Grants, and the Renewable Energy Grants is not good policy or good politics. If they represent many dairy farmers, tell them nutrition, conservation and rural development programs needn’t be destroyed to save MILC dairy payments.

Budget Conference Looms: As we enter the final week or week-plus of Congress for the year, we continue to believe there is a significant possibility of the process on the budget reconciliation spending cut bill breaking down short of completion. The Senate returns Monday night and we expect floor votes on the spending cuts package no earlier than late week or next weekend. The keys to stopping the bill remain either the House-Senate conference failing to reach a deal or, if a deal is struck, moderate House or Senate Republicans blocking passage if the final deal contains attacks on the environment or cuts to anti-poverty programs that go further than they can abide.

Still at the top of the long list of controversial provisions is drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge. Knowing they may lose too many GOP moderates with ANWR drilling included, pro-ANWR legislators are now attempting to court Southern Democrats who support ANWR drilling by offering their support for bigger hurricane relief funding. It was reported today in Congress Daily that House Ag Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) has secured agreement from the leadership that the two-year extension of the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) dairy payment program will be included in the final budget reconciliation package but the $1 billion cost will not be charged to agriculture. If true, this will reduce the size of the total ag cuts from $4 billion to $3 billion. It would also prove our point that Senators who voted against payment limitation reform behind the dairy smokescreen would ultimately be left without a smokescreen to stand behind.

Hurricane Relief to Include Agriculture: Senate Appropriations Chair Thad Cochran (R-MS) has been working on emergency supplemental appropriations for hurricane relief. His package have been reported as totaling $35.5 billion, mostly in money reprogrammed from earlier emergency funds given to FEMA. Cochran has also suggested reprogramming unspent funds originally appropriated for Iraq reconstruction. The White House, which has recommended a $17 billion hurricane relief package, all from reprogrammed FEMA funds, is challenging many of the Cochran spending proposals as well as dipping into Iraq funds. The final product, whatever its ultimate size and scope, will be appended to the Defense Appropriations bill, the last bill likely to be approved before Congress leaves for the holidays. That bill will also likely serve as the vehicle for emergency spending for avian flu preparedness.

Within the Cochran package, there is currently about $4 billion for agricultural disaster relief, split between Katrina-hit Gulf areas and Midwestern drought relief. Unconfirmed rumors are circulating that Cochran may also try to attach about $2 billion in additional agricultural relief in the form of a one-year 50 percent bonus on direct (AMTA) commodity payments.

URGENT ACTION

Thanks to everyone who have worked hard against final passage of the Budget Reconciliation conference report. Please keep the phone calls coming at least through the end of next week. We need lots of messages, especially to House GOP moderates, urging them to vote against the budget cutting package when and if it hits the floor. If you need any assistance with targeting or with message, please contact us.

The message: Vote NO on the budget reconciliation spending cuts conference report. Cutting hundreds of thousands of people from the food stamps rolls and destroying the Conservation Security Program, the CRP conservation buffer initiative, the Value-Added Producer Grants, and the Renewable Energy Grants is not good policy or good politics. If they represent many dairy farmers, tell them nutrition, conservation and rural development programs needn’t be destroyed to save MILC dairy payments.

for more information, post a question or comment here
or contact John Crabtree, johnc@cfra.org

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home