Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tuesday Roundup: Republicans Defund Packer Rules

05/24/2011

Iowa Public Television Harold Brock designed the Ford 9n and John Deere 4020 tractors. He died in January. The Iowa public television network has a good piece on this pioneer. House Republicans introduced a bill that would cut off funding for new rules aimed at reducing the power of meat packers in the marketplace.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been working on a set of regulations that would give more power to farmers, ranchers and poultry growers in their relations with meat packers. The proposed House budget would remove all funding for the preparation of these rules.

“Congressional leaders have sent a powerful message to the American people – It’s corporate profits over the wellbeing of family farmers and ranchers and consumers, period,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. Bullard notes that four meatpackers control 85% of the cattle market.

Last week, 147 House members wrote USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack asking him to  withdraw the rules.

Meanwhile, Jerry Hagstrom at DTN reports that the Obama administration will not withdraw its proposed regulations. 

"Congress directed USDA to develop new GIPSA rules to promote marketplace competition in the 2008 farm bill," a USDA spokesman wrote in an email to Hagstrom. "After issuing the proposed rule in 2010, USDA received over 60,000 comments and the agency is now working to modify and improve the rule based on these comments."

On Monday, the National Farmers Union sent a letter to every member of Congress saying that legislators in 2008 "took a firm stand for family farmers and ranchers. It is disappointing to see such noble actions twisted by the meat packing industry. This is the same industry that had huge profits last year as the livestock industry lost even more producers."

• Eastern Oregon Rep. Greg Walden has released a statement critical of a Federal Communications Commission report finding that broadband is not being deployed in a "reasonable and timely fashion."

The Washington Post reports that  "Walden, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce communications and technology subcommittee, said that although it’s true that parts of rural America are difficult to reach with broadband service, it’s disingenuous to say that broadband is not being deployed to all Americans in a timely manner. 

“The former only requires the FCC to consider reform of the Universal Service Fund; the latter is a claimed excuse to impose network neutrality and to further regulate the Internet,” Walden said in his statement.

• In the same Republican spending bill noted above, the House members propose cutting 11 percent from the Women, Infants and Children program, which provides food for low-income mothers and kids. 

The bill would cut $2 billion from food stamps, about 1.3 percent. 

• Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty says he would do away with ethanol subsidies. 

Speaking in Des Moines, Pawlenty said: “The truth about federal energy subsidies, including federal subsidies for ethanol, is that they have to be phased out. We need to do it gradually. We need to do it fairly. But we need to do it.”

• In 1939 there were still 19 million animals being used on the farm. Harold Brock designed the tractor that help put them out to pasture.

Brock, of Waterloo, Iowa, designed the Ford 9n and John Deere 4020 tractors. Here's an Iowa Public Television program on the inventor, who died in January.