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Agricultural News

Talking RFS Volume Standards and Farm Bill Conference With AFBF's Mary Kay Thatcher

Mon, 18 Nov 2013 20:12:27 CST

Talking RFS Volume Standards and Farm Bill Conference With AFBF's Mary Kay Thatcher American Farm Bureau's long time lobbyist Mary Kay Thatcher spent time in Norman over this past weekend at the 72nd Oklahoma Farm Bureau annual meeting- and Farm Director Ron Hays sat down and discussed primarily two issues with her- reaction to the EPA decision to roll back the RFS Volume standard to 2012 levels and the 2013 Farm Bill Conference.

Thatcher told Hays that the reaction has been mixed over the EPA announcement on the RFS- and that the reaction probably was muted somewhat by the leak of the proposal a couple of weeks before this past Friday's announcement. She says it's important to remember that the EPA plan is only now in a public comment period- and she believes that if the EPA moves forward with the lower volume levels after all public comments are considered- that litigation may well follow.

Thatcher is encouraged with the progress that seems to be happening with the 2013 Farm Bill negotiations- adding that there have been few public comments offered by the four principle negotiators- House Ag Chairman Frank Lucas and his ranking member Colin Peterson, Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow and her ranking member Thad Cochran. Peterson has offered some play by play several times- and he actually predicted this past week that the four leaders might be able to do a deal by the end of this week. Chairman Lucas has also spoken with The Hill.Com and was less certain about any deal before the Thanksgiving recess.

Thatcher says that the nutrition cuts are a source of concern for all who are outside looking in- and she finds it hard to believe that there can be larger than ten billion dollars in cuts over a ten year period- Democrats simply won't accept more and Republicans will be hard pressed to accept anything smaller than that level of reductions.

Hays also asked Thatcher about farm bill spending after all of the budget cuts being taken in this package- if this measure would still be subject to sequestration. She believes that it is unlikely that farm spending would be exempt- even with significant spending reductions in the 2013 pacakge.

And she reminds Hays that while this will almost certainly be a five year farm bill- the battles over how many dollars will be spent- especially in areas like nutrition, the commodity title and in crop insurance will be an on going argument that will not die.

She also offered her thoughts on possible discussions about "fixing" mandatory COOL- she agrees it appears to be on the radar of many of the Conferees- and a compromise may well be included in the final Conference Report.

Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear the full conversation between Mary Kay Thatcher and Ron Hays.


Ron Hays talks with Mary Kay Thatcher of the AFBF on Farm Bill and RFS.
right-click to download mp3


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