USDA to Revive GIPSA Rule

We haven’t had a chance to read it yet but USDA has sent out copies of the newest iteration of the “GIPSA Rule” as it will appear in the Federal Register tomorrow, beginning a 60-day comment period.

The Rule is split into three parts, with the first dealing with the poultry industry.  Part II deals with the definitions in section 202 a & b and requires 85 pages to handle.  This is an Interim Rule, and will go into effect 60 days after publication.  USDA will still take comments on this Interim Rule.  This section deals with the requirement to show harm to competition and looks even from the titles and descriptions to be a real problem.  In addition, it refers to USDA’s “longstanding interpretation” regarding harm to competition, something most of us never heard of before the 2010 Rule.  If USDA had an interpretation counter to nearly all federal court decisions, it was news to most livestock folks.

The third section of the Rule is to define “Unfair Practices” and “Undue Preferences” and requires 69 pages to address.  This section is a Proposed Rule, with comments being taken from 60 days after publication.

We will delve into the details very soon in our “AFF Sentinel” e-mail newsletter.  If you do not receive the Sentinel and would like to do, send us an e-mail at steve@agfreedom.org.

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Published in: on December 14, 2016 at 11:57 am  Leave a Comment  

TPA Finds Limbo

The Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill narrowly passed the House Friday, garnering 219 votes, one over the minimum needed.  However, leadership had structured everything as a package, with the condition that the TPA bill would not advance to the president’s desk if an accompanying Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) did not also pass.  Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi threw her opposition to TAA as a last ditch effort to stop TPA.  As a result, TAA was soundly defeated, 126-302.  A related bill on customs and trade rule enforcement did also pass.

Sources in Washington indicated House leadership will bring back the TAA bill next week.

 

Senate Could Vote on TPA Bill Friday

The Senate voted Thursday to end debate and proceed to a vote on the Trade Promotion Authority bill and several amendments.

The Senate leadership expects to vote on the bill yet Friday or in a possible weekend session.

The vote to end debate was 62-38 and required significant deal making by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to get the votes. He promised a vote next month on the Export-Import Bank. Boeing’s CEO also pushed Washington State’s Democrat Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray to vote for TPA, with an eye towards eventually getting sales deals from a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade treaty with Asian countries.

Published in: on May 22, 2015 at 12:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

House Ag Committee Passes mCOOL Repeal Bill

The House Agriculture Committee Wednesday approved H.R. 2393, a bill to amend the Agriculture Marketing Act of 1946, by a recorded vote of 38-6.  This is the bill to repeal the mCOOL law for beef, pork and chicken products.

As of this writing, there is no information on when a possible floor vote on the bill is contemplated.  Thursday is the last scheduled session for the House until June 1.

The Senate has not taken any action on a repeal bill.  The Senate Agriculture Committee has a business meeting scheduled for Thursday morning but has not indicated an mCOOL bill will be discussed or voted upon.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts has indicated support for repealing the mCOOL law.  However, Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mi.) has issued a statement supporting the law, on the basis of consumer right-to-know theory.  As former chairman of the committee, she had pledged support of mCOOL repeal and then flip-flopped over a winter weekend with no explanation for those to whom she had indicated support.  Stabenow did not make any comment regarding her constituents who would have companies damaged and jobs hurt by retaliation over retaining the protectionist law.

WTO Issues Final Ruling, Shoots Down U.S. mCOOL Law

As expected by most observers, the WTO’s Appellate body again ruled Monday against the U.S. mCOOL rule. As USDA has already made it clear they have been unable to find any way to comply with both the U.S. law and WTO rules — something we said from the beginning of the COOL movement — the ruling puts a solution in Congress’ court.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway (R-TX) understands the urgency of Congress acting swiftly. He has scheduled a news conference for Tuesday and is asking for input from his committee members during a Wednesday business meeting.

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Assn. has encouraged the Government of Canada to move without delay to request WTO authorization for retaliatory tariffs. That authorization could come later this summer, with tariffs totaling some $2 billion/year and affecting hundreds of U.S. products across dozens of industries.

Published in: on May 18, 2015 at 2:12 pm  Comments (1)  

Senate Acts on Trade Bills

Our apologies for not posting to this blog for awhile…but it seems so many issues are so complex and lengthy, short blog posts are tough to do.

However, there is important breaking news today.  To wit:

Similar to the outlines of a deal we mentioned Tuesday night, the Senate has negotiated a way to get enough Democrats happy to get trade bills moving again, after Tuesday’s failed cloture vote.

The Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill, coupled with the Trade Adjustment Assistance bill, advanced to floor debate, with a 65-33 vote.  The customs enforcement bill, with currency manipulation language intact, was brought to a vote, as part of the negotiating to advance TPA.  The customs bill passed 78-20.  Its final fate is uncertain, given that the White House opposes it and the House Ways and Means Committee has reported out a very different bill.

The TPA bill is slated to begin floor debate next week.  The House is expected to take up the bill next month.

Published in: on May 14, 2015 at 1:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Rocky Mountain Heist

It Could Happen to Your State

Many folks living elsewhere have noticed how the state of Colorado has moved from a historically conservative political state to a blue liberal state seemingly overnight. The story of how this happened is important to everyone because this “Colorado Model,” as it has been dubbed, is a model the liberal left wants to roll out in Texas and Virginia and then other states.

The model was to use significant amounts of money — in this case supplied largely by four wealthy liberals — to steamroll local elections for state senators and representatives and blow away opposition for the governor’s race. The preparation was all done very quietly, so that by the time Colorado Republicans discovered what was going on, it was too late. Both houses and the governorship were Democrat.

What followed was a barrage of mandates for renewable energy, the gun control laws that staggered rural and gun owner Coloradans and efforts on the gay and lesbian front.

The difficulties and cost of just coming up with the wind and solar power, plus transmission lines plus backup gas generation will cost Colorado citizens, especially farmers and manufacturers, billions of dollars over just a short period of time.

Want the full story to watch? Citizens United and Michelle Malkin have made a film about how this all happened. You can watch it this weekend and see a riveting and scary story unfold.

“Rocky Mountain Heist”

Here are the times and channels:

Newsmax TV (Dish Channel 223, DirecTv 349

Saturday, Oct. 25th 7-8:00 p.m. and 10:00 -11:00 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 26th 7-8:00 p.m. and 10:00 -11:00 p.m.

If you live in Colorado, KETD-TV Denver:

Saturday, Oct. 25th -7-8:00 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 26th 4-5:00 p.m.

Find out how elections and election laws, planning and money can “tree” a state reminiscent of politicians treeing a town in the old days.

Published in: on October 25, 2014 at 12:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

EPA Finally Bows (Slightly) to Reality on Ethanol

EPA finally did what had been rumored it would do —  lowered the mandate for renewable fuels to be blended into gasoline in 2014.

On Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, EPA proposed a mandate level 16 percent less than that specified in the 2007 law.  The proposal would require between 12.7 and 13.2 billion gallons of corn ethanol in 2014, a level not only lower than originally required for 2014 but lower than the mandate level for the last two years (“EPA Shrinks Ethanol Mandate for First Time,” Wall Street Journal, 11/15/13).

Of course, this is not because EPA is recognizing the misguided policy aims of the Renewable Fuel Standards or the probable net loss in energy efficiency from producing fuel from corn.  Nor was it a given, since reality didn’t keep the EPA from fining refiners millions of dollars a year for not using cellulosic fuel that wasn’t being produced and couldn’t be blended.  Cold, hard facts do not necessarily faze bureaucrats at the EPA.

But the EPA was finally made to understand that blenders can’t blend ethanol into fuel that is not being produced and sold.  The continuing lousy economy under this administration and Congress, improving fuel economy on cars and trucks and the increased domestic production of oil despite the administration’s efforts to quell it have reduced the demand for gas and diesel.  Meaning there was not enough fuel needed and sold to achieve the mandates on renewable fuels the law had suggested and EPA had demanded.

Interestingly enough for animal agriculture, the news story in the Washington Post quoted Renewable Fuels Assn. President Bob Dineen near the beginning of their story, since it supported the manmade global warming doctrine.

“They’re capitulating to the oil companies,” Dineen said.  “The RFS was about forcing the marketplace change and EPA is giving the oil companies a get out of jail free card (“EPA Proposes Smaller Requirements For Biofuel Use,” 11/15/13).”

Perish the thought that we would allow free markets to govern what is bought and sold.  After all, those “markets” that the liberals regard as so wanton and evil, are really summaries of citizens voting with their dollars for products.  We can’t have that.

But it was 14 paragraphs into an 18-paragraph story that animal agriculture was even heard from, and even then the Post tarred the comments from livestock and poultry producers by noting they were heard on a conference call hosted by the American Petroleum Institute, that advocate of those nasty carbon products like oil and gasoline.  And the story didn’t note that livestock producers were happy to see some relief from artificially high corn prices forced by the ethanol mandate.  Nor did it mention the hundreds of millions of dollars those artificial corn prices — as opposed to just higher market-determined corn prices that animal agriculture knows corn farmers needed — cost livestock producers and feeders over the last five years.

But it the Post did allow in a good point and a good line, saying livestock and poultry producers didn’t see “any more need to set ethanol volume requirements than there was for setting requirements for turkey output.”  Surprising they let a shaft of free market light into the discussion in a news story.  Especially while the UN climate change bunch is meeting in Poland whipping up hysteria over impending doom.

Obama Proclaims Republicans Extortionists.

How much more poisonous can the political climate in Washington get?

Opposing this administration’s policies has long been termed “racist” by the liberal left and the general media, regardless of whether the issue had anything to do with race, i.e. immigration, economic policy or any fundamental “reform” the president has embarked upon.  He’s also termed them extremists.  Apparently, that’s not producing satisfactory enough results in winning public and political opinion.

Wednesday, the president stepped up the rhetoric, calling Congressional Republicans extortionists for daring to oppose him in rubber stamping an increase in the debt ceiling.  What’s next in this war on those daring to oppose this administration?  The British term the party out of power the Loyal Opposition.  Churchill was the acknowledged master of wielding the (verbal) cudgel of Loyal Opposition.  Obama terms them  —  in his case — extortionists.  What’s next?  Calling them Terrorists?  Traitors?  This from the candidate who was going to be the Great Healer, as well as… well, you remember all the claims and predictions, including that shtick about the waves.  In fact, the manmade global warming boosters are heaping more scorn on “climate skeptics” now because a new report is due soon terming the manmade component mere background noise to global geology.  But we digress.

Just what did President Obama say to the Business Roundtable?

“You have never seen in the history of the United States the debt ceiling or the threat of not raising the debt ceiling being used to extort a president or a governing party and trying to force issues that have nothing to do with the budget and had nothing to do with debt,” Obama said.

We’re not sure how the president can regard perhaps the largest spending project in our nation’s history irrelevant to budget and debt matters but economics and numbers were never his game.  To him, it just boils down to an attitude of this is what he wants.  Shut up and do what he wants.

What about Obama’s claim that never in history has anyone used the debt ceiling as leverage to get tit for tat?  Of course, historical accuracy is not the president’s game either.  Chris Stirewalt noted that Obama should know better on this one.  He and the Democrats used the debt ceiling debate to harass President George Bush over the Iraq war.  As for how we got into this mess, Stirewalt pointed out the United States has not had a budget since 2007.  We’ve been stumbling along with stopgap continuing resolutions ever since (Fox News, 09/18/13), including the years when the White House, the Senate and the House were Democrat-led.

Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck went further regarding “never in history:” “Every major deficit deal in the last 30 years has been tied to a debt-limit increase, and this time should be no different.”  He reiterated that Republicans do not want the U.S. to default on its debts.  The key words Buck uttered were “major deficit deal.”  Obama does not want his purse pinched.

Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner announced that there will be a vote in the House on a budget bill that would fund the government but defund Obamacare.  If the House should pass such a bill, it would put pressure on the Senate to do something to fund the government.  As Karl Rove pointed out on Fox News Wednesday, when the government shutdown occurred in 1995, it wasn’t really a full shut-down.  Seven of the 13 appropriations bills had already been passed then.

This time it’s different.  Congress has passed no appropriations bills.  Some departments are on short strings already because of sequestration (an idea the president fathered but refuses to acknowledge).  So a shut-down could really shut down everything not essential if that’s what the Republicans were really trying to do.  But while that’s what the left has claimed, the Republican leadership has never said they wanted to shut down the whole government, just defund Obamacare, using what few weapons they have at hand.

The Washington Post analyzed the budget situation in terms policy non-wonks could understand.  Why are the real cast iron conservatives so adamant on pushing this budget deal to the edge over Obamacare?  For one, they view this as the last chance to stop or delay Obamacare, with implementation just weeks away.  For another, they are concerned about primary challenges and the “ire of conservative groups” who want to “shred Obamacare at all costs.  A “we-tried-once-so-now-let’s-back-away” posture won’t ease any of their political pressures, the Post story said, (Boehner Agonistes (again),” 09/18/13).

We agree that those pressures are part of the equation.  But further, the left views opposition to Obamacare as misguided and really dismisses the notion that there are very many voters out there so unenlightened as to not want it.  And Congressmen who pay attention to what their voters want anyway, are just short-sighted politicians trying to get reelected.  Because the left are really the political animals, they can’t understand the conservative right as being rooted in principle and behaving like that regardless of consequences.  That is why they view a person like Ted Cruz or Mike Lee  — willing to buck both their own and the opposition party’s leadership — as extremists people should be frightened of.

The Post story said something else interesting about the budget standoff.

“What’s more, in order for a budget strategy to really be tested, it must be drawn out to the last moment.  These negotiations have increasingly become blinking contests, and Defund Obamacare advocates aren’t going to be happy until Senate Democrats are faced with a choice between a government shutdown and defunding Obamacare.  Anything else will be seen as a token effort.”

In other words, it isn’t High Noon until it’s noon and the street is cleared except for the two gunfighters.  All the rest is nerve-wracking prologue only the rest of us notice.

But at least some folks have the guts to step into the street.  Unfortunately, too many of our Washington politicians are law-trained negotiators, only interested in brokering a deal, not defending bedrock principles and values important to our country and its citizens.

And while this drama is crucial to all of us, it means all the rest of the stuff important to specific sectors of the economy, like agriculture or trade or immigration, just doesn’t merit much attention.

By the way, other news today also smacked of extortion and blackmail but it wasn’t the Loyal Opposition that was responsible.  USA Today and Fox News reported that the IRS had flagged groups for “anti-Obama rhetoric” and emotional statements, searching press releases, articles, commentary and research reports.  What is extortion if it isn’t withholding tax exemption unless you keep your mouth shut about certain things?  Is this more Chicago-style coercion seeping into our government?

K.T. McFarland only this morning wondered if our intelligence community was gathering such a massive volume of information that it couldn’t find even the obvious things when it needed to.  Like whether a guy arrested on weapons charges, harassing neighbors and hearing voices coming out of the ceilings and walls  — they didn’t say how cheap a motel he’d been staying in, so we assume they’d clarified that the voices were directed at him and that what they were telling him to do bad things  —  is the kind of guy who should have a security clearance and the okay to buy weapons.  If Obama’s people are having to sort through all the “anti-Obama” rhetoric, it would seem they have set themselves a gargantuan task, even though the left-leaning general media scoff that any such discontent exists, except for a handful of “extremists.”

As Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice noted  — his group has represented conservative and Tea Party groups harassed by the IRS in the process of seeking a nonprofit status —  setting the government to combing through the media for anti-government statements is not what the Founding Fathers envisioned in the U.S. Constitution.  There is this little item in there about free speech.  King George III did not like being spoken ill of.  But he was a king.  We’re supposed to have a president and a government by and for the People.

Meanwhile, we have an active, pushy, bossy, overbearing bureaucracy.  We don’t have much legislative governing going on.  However, non-government by paralysis could be preferable to really bad government.

Published in: on September 18, 2013 at 7:14 pm  Comments (1)  

Colorado Voters Rise Up Over Gun Laws

Voters in Colorado learned something Tuesday.  So did a couple state senators, including the president of the senate.

The voters learned that they can buck 137 years of statehood history and recall legislators who ignored their wishes, especially when visceral issues like gun control is involved.  Two senators learned that if they try to ram things down voters’ throats, voters might rise up and smite them.

State Senate President John Morse (D-El Paso) and Sen. Angela Giron (D-Pueblo) both lost recall elections Tuesday in Colorado, the first such recalls in Colorado history.

Despite being turned out of office, neither senator indicated acceptance of voter’s wishes.

“We as the Democratic party will continue to fight,” Morse said in conceding the election.

“We will win in the end because we are on the right side,” Giron said (“Colorado State Sen. Angela Giron Becomes 2nd Lawmaker to Lose Recall Over Gun Laws Support,” Washington Post, 9/10/13).

Having won commanding majorities in both houses of the legislature and holding the governor’s office, the Democrats under Morse in the Senate and House Speaker Mark Ferrandino (D-Arapahoe), the state’s first gay speaker, evinced a charging style that struck legislative opponents as a forceful, quick-strike offense.  Several of the gun control laws passed that made Colorado citizens the subject of much stricter gun control laws were pushed through relatively quickly.

Besides the restrictive gun laws passed over the objections of not only rural citizens, hunters, gun owners and the organized and vocal opposition of dozens of sheriffs, many rural and suburban citizens don’t even know another serious blow was landed on their household budgets.  With little hearing time and study, the legislature quickly and quietly passed legislation to force billions of dollars in expensive alternative energy costs on the rural electric industry serving Colorado and surrounding states.

The new law requires rural electric coops to source 20 percent of all their power from alternative sources like wind turbines and solar panels within a very short time period.  Hydroelectric power, already a long-time contributor to electric grids cannot be counted.  Rate payers will not only have to pay for billions in wind and solar farms but also the generating plants to back up the erratic sources of electricity and the transmission lines to carry power from remote areas to the grid.

With solar and wind power costing several times the cost of conventional coal and gas power, suburban and rural customers will see significant increases in rates.  One farmer estimated thousands of dollars per day in increased costs during irrigation season.  A large percentage of households not living in actual downtown areas of towns like Colorado Springs, for instance, depend on rural electric coops for power and will see rates go up.  In fact, since wording in the statute forbids the generating coops to raise rates anywhere near enough to recoup costs, it’s not clear how the generating coops will recover capital investment costs and survive.

We’re not sure what it is about plumbers and gumption  —  remember Joe the Plumber posing a key question to candidate Obama? —  but it was a Pueblo area plumber, Timothy Knight, who initiated the recall campaign.  Recall campaign volunteers gathered thousands of voter petition signatures to force the recall election.  Political observers believe Knight’s group might be the first to turn in petitions with a 95 percent validity score.  They used a handheld computer to check voter registration databases in real-time as petitioners stood by.  It is possible this recall will change the methodology used for voter petition efforts in the future.

In addition to local money and volunteer work, hundreds of thousands of dollars was pumped into the fight by the National Rifle Association and, further enraging state gun owners, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to support the gun control senators.  Interestingly enough, despite Morse’s position as Senate president and bigger city media exposure, the voter turnout was twice as big in Pueblo, 30 percent (32,000) vs. 15 percent (17,000) in Colorado Springs.  The night’s returns showed the recall posted 51 percent against Morse and 56 percent against Giron, meaning in Morse’s case a few hundred votes was the difference.

Some dedicated Colorado citizens proved they can make a difference if they take the time and trouble to use the political tools at hand and harness today’s technology.

Published in: on September 11, 2013 at 12:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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