Vol. 1 · No. 8 · December 14, 2007

SENATE PASSES FARM BILL

To the NASULGC System:
- Board on Agriculture Assembly
- Budget and Advocacy Committee
- Council on Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching
- Council on Governmental Affairs

The Senate has wrapped up its version of the 2007 Farm Bill following five weeks of on-again-off-again debate. The bill was approved by the Senate today by a recorded vote of 79 yeas to 14 nays.

As detailed below, the leadership of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee stood together to turn back a dozen or more amendments, including the amendment offered by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to restore $74 million in funding for the Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems (IFAFS) within USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service.
 

Amendments Rejected by Senate on Recorded Votes

Lugar (#3711) to phase out farm programs (37-58).
Gregg (#3672) to strike assistance to asparagus producers (39-56).
Gregg (#3671) to strike Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance (37-58).
Alexander (#3551) to strike wind energy tax credits and increase Future Agriculture and Food Systems research funding (19-75).
Alexander (#3553) to strike certain wind energy tax credits (14-79).
Gregg (#3673) rural medical liability (41-53).
Sessions (#3596) Farm Savings Accounts (35-58).
Dorgan/Grassley (#3695) payment limitations (56-43) (required 60 votes to pass).
Klobuchar (#3810) adjusted gross income test (48-47) (required 60 votes to pass).
Tester (#3666) regarding meat packers (40-55).
Brown (#3819) crop insurance (32-63).
Craig (#3640) acquisition of farmland (37-58).

IFAFS Funding Partially Restored
As you recall from previous communications, the Farm Bill approved by the House of Representatives in July kept intact the $200 million per year in mandatory (not subject to annual appropriations) IFAFS funding that is scheduled to resume in fiscal years 2010, 2011, and 2012. However, the Senate Committee on Agriculture used these IFAFS monies to pay for other Farm Bill priorities.

The Senate defeated the $74 million Alexander IFAFS amendment primarily due to objections to the proposed funding offset and other factors not related to research. However, in the end, the leadership of the Senate Agriculture Committee did embrace restoration of $45 million in IFAFS funds via a provision in the "Manager's amendment."


This is an important development. Both the House and Senate are now on record in support of a resumption in IFAFS funding and the upcoming House-Senate conference will be focused on the precise funding level.

Other NASULGC System Priorities
In addition to the IFAFS funding, Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) agreed to incorporate within their own "Manager's Amendment" two other items of importance to the NASULGC system:
 

NASULGC Initiatives in "Manager's Amendment"

Increase indirect cost rate for cooperative agreements to 30% to matching the rate for competitive grants contained in reported bill.
Explicitly authorizes the "minor use animal drugs" program, thereby eliminating this multistate/multi-institution program’s incorrect perception as a CSREES "special grants" line item.
Increase IFAFS funding by $45 million.

Joint House-Senate Conference Committee to Meet Quickly
In a meeting yesterday with Cornerstone's Fred Clark and Mark Rokala, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) made clear his intention to begin work on the Farm Bill conference as soon as the Senate passes the bill. Peterson's goal is to complete work on the conference report and get it to the President in late January 2008, if possible.

In addition to the IFAFS funding level, there are many other items of interest to the land-grant system and related institutions that must be resolved by the conference committee, including the important new capacity building program for the AASCARR universities, structural concerns, and individual authorizations. NASULGC's CREATE-21 / Farm Bill Committee and the Cornerstone Team will continue to fight vigorously for the system's priorities and will keep you abreast of developments.

Links:

Senate Vote on Alexander Amendment
create-21.org/documents/PDF/Alexander_Vote.pdf

Action Alert about the IFAFS Funding Fight
create-21.org/alerts/12-07-2007.htm

Cornerstone's Farm Bill Report on Farm Bill as Reported to Senate
create-21.org/CGA_FBR/2007-10-25.htm

Additional Information about CREATE-21 and House/Senate Bills
create-21.org/advocacy.htm

Happy Holidays!!
The Cornerstone Team