NASCOE Legislative Update: December 7, 2018

From Hunter Moorhead, NASCOE Legislative Consultant:

Appropriations Update — As expected, the House and Senate have agreed to another continuing resolution funding the government through December 21. The President signed the measure on Friday, December 7, 2018

Farm Bill Reauthorization — We expect the 2018 Farm Bill conference report will be released early next week. We will forward all summary documents and legislative language.

Legislative News Flash–2018 Farm Bill & FY19 Appropriations Updates

NASCOE Legislative Update for November 26

With the elections nearly complete, we are actively working to finalize both the 2018 Farm Bill and the 2019 Agriculture Appropriations bill. Let us know if you need additional information about the topics listed below.

Elections – Today’s Mississippi Senate race between Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith and former Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy will be the final federal election.  If Hyde-Smith wins, the Senate Republicans will continue their control by a margin of 53 – 47.  As previously noted, the House of Representatives will shift to Democratic control allowing Congressman Collin Peterson to chair the Agriculture Committee.

Farm Bill Reauthorization – The House and Senate Ag Committee leadership are working tirelessly to finalize Farm Bill negotiations.  As of noon today, an agreement had not been reach regarding the conservation title and forestry related provisions. However, we still believe the process is wrapping up and the final details should be available soon.  We have been able to address most all of our concerns and believe the final agreement will be an improvement for both FSA and production agriculture.

Appropriations – Five appropriations bills representing 75% of the Federal budget have been enacted and signed into law (DoD, LHHS, Energy & Water, Milcon/VA, Legislative Branch).  Of the remaining seven bills, four (Agriculture, Financial Services/General Government, Interior, Transportation/HUD) are in a minibus which has largely been conferenced, and substantial work has been done between the House and the Senate on the other three bills (Commerce/Justice/Science, Homeland, and State/Foreign Operations).

The agencies covered by the seven outstanding bills are currently being funded by a continuing resolution (CR) that expires on December 7th.

Reportedly, there is agreement between the House and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairs and Ranking Members on a schedule to move the remaining seven bills in one package. The White House agrees with that approach.  To complete action on a seven bill appropriations package and move it through both the House and the Senate before the CR runs out on December 7th, decisions on outstanding issues and funding levels should be made by Sunday, December 2nd.  The most difficult remaining issue is the funding level and conditions on funding for the Border Wall/Border Security — the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations bill contains $1.6b and the House version contains $5b.

Over 100 House members who are retiring or who lost their seats are currently working out of cubicles (they’ve been kicked out of their offices so those spaces can be available for incoming members).  Predictably, those 100 members are less than enthusiastic about dragging this Congress out any longer than necessary.  There is likely to be some emergency funding included for recovery from this year’s hurricanes and wildfires in the final appropriations vehicle moving through this congress, as well as some extraneous legislative items (Farm Bill, Flood Program extension, etc.).

Since the President can veto any spending bill that doesn’t satisfy his desires on funding for the Border Wall/Border Security, the confrontation/negotiation on the issue could easily result in an impasse that precludes completion of a seven bill wrap-up appropriations package.

Should an agreement be unattainable by the 7th of December, another continuing resolution could be passed to prevent any government shutdown.

Everyone wants to complete action on the FY 2019 appropriations bills. Everyone wants to go home as early as possible. Everyone understands that everyone else wants to finish and go home and accordingly, the party who is willing to hold out the longest and inflict the most pain on themselves and everyone else may believe a willingness to stay and precipitate a partial government shutdown would give them leverage in the negotiations.  

An orderly completion of the FY 2019 Appropriations process and timely passage of a seven-bill wrap-up package is possible but unlikely given the rhetoric, staked out positions, and likely posturing to both parties’ bases on the Border Wall/Border Security Issue. 

If an agreement is reached before or on December 7th, a two or three day continuing resolution could be passed to avoid any government shutdown while the final agreement moves through the Congress. 

A number of Members of Congress met with President Trump this afternoon to continue budget negotiations. We will provide another update later this week regarding the chances of any government shutdown.  

Hunter Moorhead
NASCOE Legislative Consultant

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Legislative Update: FY19 Appropriations and 2018 Farm Bill Reauthorization

Hunter Moorhead, NASCOE’s Legislative Consultant, has provide us with the below up-to-date information on the status of both the FY19 Appropriations and 2018 Farm Bill.

Thanks,
Donny Green & Neil Burnette
NASCOE Legislative Chairpersons


The current budget and legislative information is being provided to NASCOE membership and is intended to update full membership regarding both federal spending/appropriations and 2018 Farm Bill reauthorization.

Appropriations
The President is scheduled later today to sign the Defense and Labor Health and Human Services appropriations bills. This legislation will fund the government through December 7, 2018. There will be no government shutdown.

For Agriculture appropriations, the Bill has been negotiated and will likely be formally agreed to following the November mid-term elections. Once final, we will provide details about salaries and expenses funding and any relevant legislative language.

Farm Bill
The House and Senate continue to negotiate the final agreement. Unfortunately, the September 30 deadline will pass without any final resolution. The deadline will have very little impact on commodity and conservation programs. We expect negotiations will continue throughout the Fall. In a perfect world, they would wrap up negotiations before the end of 2018.

Hunter Moorhead
NASCOE Legislative Consultant

President’s Update – September 2018

Dennis Ray, NASCOE PresidentIt has been a busy past few weeks since our last update. We had a very successful National Convention in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The South Dakota Association worked very hard to provide a great experience for the several hundred attendees. I would like to take this time to thank a few of the folks that made the convention such a success. Becky Zirpel, Joel Foster and Larry Olson, along with the entire South Dakota Association, went above and beyond to host the 59th National Convention and we thank them for their efforts. I would like to thank Randy Tillman and Jamie Garriott for their many hours of hard work and their usual tremendous job in providing the audio and visual support.

The convention was very well attended by National Office leadership, including Undersecretary Bill Northey, Administrator Richard Fordyce, Associate Administrator Steve Peterson, Deputy Administrator of Field Operations Peggy Browne and Deputy Administrator of Farm Programs Brad Karmen. Also attending for FSA were Linda Treese, Trina Brake and Kathy Sayers. FPAC business center was represented by Terri Meighan and Darren Ash. Rebecca Dudley and Ameer Ali, from the Managerial Cost Accounting Team presented information on the workload tool and Optimally Productive Office dashboard. Steve Stark was also present and demonstrated the farmers.gov portal. Members were provided a 2-hour question and answer session where they could ask the panel questions that were on their minds. The notes from the Q & A are currently in WDC being reviewed and vetted for accuracy by those who answered the questions. Q & A notes will be posted to the NASCOE website as soon as they are received back from WDC. We thank the national office for being generous in approving travel for so many people to attend our convention. It is very beneficial for our membership to have that opportunity to network with our national leaders.

NASCOE leadership recently held our organizational meeting in Manhattan, Kansas site of the 2019 national convention. KASCOE is preparing for a great convention next year. It will be a great site for the convention and I hope folks begin planning now to attend. At the meeting, we reviewed the challenges for the upcoming year and discus sed our plans for addressing those concerns. We also spent one day working with national committee chairs and setting goals and action plans for meeting those goals. We also discussed the status of the Farm Bill and funding for FY-2019.

Based on information provided by our legislative consultant, it doesn’t appear that the Farm Bill will be passed before the current bill expires on September 30th. There are several items that have been agreed upon, but the nutrition title remains an issue. Committee conferees have been named and NASCOE is watching a couple items that are important to our membership and will need to be resolved in the committee before the bill goes to the full congress for approval. The results of the midterm elections could determine if the current bill is considered as is when Congress returns after the election or if the bill is revised.

Funding for the FY-19 has not been passed as of the date of this article. It appears likely that the ag approps bill will be included in a minibus scheduled to be voted on Friday, September 28th, which would provide a continuing resolution funding us until December 7, 2018. While the exact funding level is not known, indications have been positive regarding the amount provided FSA. We will continue to monitor the farm bill and funding issues and will provides updates through our legislative committee as they occur.

NASCOE is following up on a few items raised at the national convention such as the acreage reporting dates for perennial forages, increasing the number of activation sites for resetting lincpass cards and the late filed deadlines for acreage reports. We are currently trying to schedule a meeting with management to work on these and other pressing issues. We will provide updates to these efforts as we can. In the meantime, please feel free to contact any of your NASCOE leaders if you have any issues or concerns.

NASCOE Legislative Update — Senate Passes Farm Bill

Donny Green, NASCOE Legislative ChairToday, the 2018 Farm Bill (H.R. 2) passed the Senate with a strong show of bi-partisan support with a 86-11 vote.

The Bill sets federal agriculture and food programs/policy for the next five years. Passage of the Senate Farm Bill moves Congress one step closer to sending a bill to the President before the current legislation expires September 30.

Both the House (passed 6/21/18) and Senate bills will now move to conference, where they must reconcile the bills before they head to the President for his signature. We will work to review all adopted amendments and prepare for conference negotiations between the House and Senate passed bills.

NASCOE will continue to monitor the progress of the Farm Bill and keep membership updated as developments occur.In addition, we will soon release an update regarding FSA’s hiring process.

What is the Farm Bill and Why is it Important?

Donny Green, NASCOE Legislative ChairOn April 18, the House Agriculture Committee passed its Farm Bill, H.R. 2, the “Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018”. The full legislative text of H.R. 2 is 641 pages. The Section-By-Section version (link attached at end of this article) is much more condensed and offers highlights of the legislation. The Bill passed the House Agriculture Committee and will now move to the full House which is expected to vote on the measure next month. The Bill will move through the Senate Agriculture Committee next and the Senate is expected to release its version in the next few weeks.

Passage of the House Bill is just one early step in a series of many steps that must be taken before a Farm Bill becomes law. The process can be confusing and therefore we hope to shed a little light on the process to make it a little easier to understand.

So you might ask, “What is the Farm Bill and why is it important?” The Farm Bill is an omnibus, multi-year law that governs an array of agricultural and food programs. An omnibus bill is a single document accepted in a single vote by Congress that packages together several measures into one or combines diverse subjects. Titles in the most recent farm bill encompassed farm commodity price and income supports, agricultural conservation, farm credit, trade, research, rural development, bioenergy, foreign food aid, and domestic nutrition assistance. Because it is renewed about every five years, the Farm Bill provides a predictable opportunity for policymakers to comprehensively and periodically address agricultural and food issues.

The current Farm Bill, the Agricultural Act of 2014, expires September 30, 2018. When a farm bill expires, not all programs are affected equally. Some programs cease to operate unless reauthorized, while others might continue to pay old obligations. The farm commodity programs not only expire but would revert to permanent law dating back to the 1940s. Nutrition assistance programs require periodic reauthorization, but appropriations can keep them operating. Many discretionary programs would lose statutory authority to receive appropriations, though annual appropriations could provide funding and implicit authorization. Other programs have permanent authority and do not need to be reauthorized. These permanent programs include LFP, LIP, ELAP, and TAP.

The second page of this article contains a flow chart that will serve as a guide to help NASCOE members understand the legislative process and how a bill becomes a law.

NASCOE’s Legislative Team is working hard for our members to stay informed and proactive as the 2018 Farm Bill process continues. We not only monitor Farm Bill issues, but other issues that affect membership such as benefits, annual appropriations and re-organization. NASCOE is proud to represent employees who want our customer service and program delivery to align with Secretary Perdue’s motto to “Do right and feed everyone” in a fiscally responsible manner to benefit our agricultural economy.

H.R. 2, Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2019, Section-By-Section:

https://agriculture.house.gov/uploadedfiles/agriculture_and_nutrition_act_of_2018_section_by_section.pdf

How a Bill Becomes a Law Flow Chart