The Health Insurance Tax will hurt small business employees the hardest, according to congressional testimony by New York Farm Bureau President and dairy owner Dean Norton. Testifying before the House Small Business Subcommittee on Health and Technology, Norton, also a board member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, encouraged members to co-sponsor H.R. 763, which would repeal the HIT.
The HIT, which was passed as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, will be levied on a health insurance company’s net premiums. But, said Norton, in the end it will be employees who ultimately pay the price.
H.R. 763, introduced by Reps. Charles Boustany (R-La.) and Jim Matheson (D-Utah), would repeal the annual fee on health insurance providers, preventing premium increases for individuals and small businesses in the fully insured health insurance marketplace.
More information can be found HERE.
Judicial Win for Maryland Farmers
In what is being hailed as a judicial win for local farmers, Maryland Farm Bureau and the Maryland Department of Agriculture successfully defended farmer privacy in a case that began more than six years ago. In an opinion issued last week, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland upheld the confidentiality of farmer information in nutrient management plans. The court agreed that the identities of farmers with current nutrient management plans are protected indefinitely under the lawnot only in the plan summaries but also in other documents held by MDA.
“Maryland Farm Bureau is very pleased that the court affirmed what has been our position all alongthat nutrient management plans should be considered confidential business documents and identifying information should not be shared with the public,” said Pat Langenfelder, president of Maryland Farm Bureau.
Grants Given to Study Weather’s Affects on Cattle
The Agriculture Department awarded $19.5 million to further research, education and Extension activities related to climate solutions in agriculture, specifically the affects of climate variability and change on dairy and beef cattle.
The University of Wisconsin and partners received $9.9 million to study the environmental impacts on dairy production systems and create best management practices for producers on the farm. The remaining $9.6 million in funding was awarded to Oklahoma State University and partners, whose focus is to safeguard regional beef production while decreasing agriculture’s environmental footprint.
Forward in the Digital Age
On May 3, the last print edition of FBNews was printed and shipped. The paper, which covers a gamut of agricultural affairs, resumes as a free e-newsletter and website, http://fbnews.fb.org/. Stewart Truelsen explained in this week’s Focus on Agriculture column that, “The newspaper is not a victim of the Digital Age as much as it is a beneficiary of it.”
DriftWatch Crops Registry Expands Nationwide
FieldWatch Inc. has successfully transitioned its national version of the online DriftWatch specialty crop site registry for high-value, specialty crops and apiaries to a new technology platform. The registry allows farmers to identify and map the location of sensitive crops including tomatoes, fruit trees, grapes, vegetables and organic crops, serving as a stewardship resource for applicators to consult before spraying.
A voluntary online registry, DriftWatch originated in Indiana within Purdue University’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering in 2008.
Senate Ag Committee Farm Bill Markup Moved to May 14
Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) has announced that the farm bill markup tentatively scheduled for Thursday will be postponed until Tuesday, May 14. Language to be used for the markup is expected to be posted to the committee’s website before the end of the week.
The House Ag Committee also plans to markup the farm bill next week.
Senate Ag Committee farm bill website
House Agriculture Committee website
AFBF Joins Groups in New Crop Insurance Agreement
The American Farm Bureau Federation has joined with a diverse group of 44 conservation, environmental, crop insurance and agricultural organizations in distributing a position paper that outlines a common-sense compromise to link conservation compliance and crop insurance premium assistance and to oppose means testing, payment limitations or premium subsidy reductions for the crop insurance program.
These recommendations have been submitted to Senate and House agriculture committee leadership for their consideration for debate on the new farm bill. In a letter to Senate agriculture committee leaders, the organizations said the position provides “an effective farm and natural resource safety net.”
USDA to Assist Cranberry Growers
The Agriculture Department will purchase up to $5 million in cranberry concentrate due to a record growing year for the crop in 2012 and the effect it could have on cranberry prices. Cranberry growers, as well as several members of Congress, requested the government assistance.
The funding comes from USDA’s Section 32 program of the Agricultural Act of 1935 and will be distributed to federal food programs, school lunch programs and used in food banks.
FWS Continues Review of Lesser Prairie Chicken
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took several actions pertaining to its ongoing review of the status of the lesser prairie chicken on Monday. FWS proposed a special rule for the LPC; reopened the comment period on the original proposal to list the LPC as threatened; and announced the availability of, and solicited comments on, a range-wide conservation plan prepared by the multi-state Interstate Working Group.
AFBF opposes listing the LPC as threatened and filed comments on the FWS proposal during the initial comment period.
FBNews E-newsletter Covers Immigration, Farm Bill and More
Check out the latest FBNews e-newsletter, covering the top news in agriculture. May’s edition includes articles on immigration legislation, the Mississippi River Navigation Sustainment Act and state issues, such as Illinois’ delayed planting progress. E-newsletter blurbs link to full articles in the new, online edition of FBNews.
Sign up for the e-newsletter HERE.
'Dirty Dozen' Produce List Continues to Ignore Science