Missouri Farm Bureau February Newsletter

The Capitol Connection Newsletter: Volume III, Issue 6

February 14, 2003

This week the House gave preliminary approval to the "Classroom Trust Fund" school funding proposal, to allocate gaming proceeds on a per pupil basis in years when the Foundation Formula is fully funded starting in Fiscal Year 2005. Also, with Governor Holden and legislative leadership at odds over whether education funding must be cut this year, both the House and Senate spent considerable time on tobacco securitization proposals to issue bonds based on future tobacco settlement payments and thereby ease the current budget shortfall.

The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation, Parks and Natural Resources, chaired by Senator Klindt, heard testimony on SB 388, sponsored by Senator Klindt, to increase the loan guarantee from 25% to 50% for loan guarantees issued under the Single-Purpose Animal Facilities Loan Guarantee Program administered by the Missouri Agriculture and Small Business Development Authority (MASBDA). (An article in the July 2002 issue of Show Me MFB featured MASBDA programs.) Proponents testifying for the bill were MASBDA, Farm Credit Services of Missouri, Missouri Bankers Association, Missouri Dairy Association, and MFB.

The House Agriculture Committee, chaired by Representative Myers, heard testimony on HB 257, sponsored by Representative Munzlinger, to allow entities that purchase tax credits from farmers who invest in new generation cooperatives to apply the credits to quarterly tax liability (companion bill to SB 84). Testifying in favor of the bill were John Eggleston, representing the Northeast Missouri Grain Processors ethanol cooperative in Macon; Terry Hilgedick, corn and soybean farmer representing the Missouri Corn Growers Association; and MFB. Roger Young, representing the ECAP ethanol cooperative in Laddonia, also expressed support for the bill.

The House Agriculture Committee also heard testimony on HCRs 3 and 5, sponsored by Representative Townley, to express support on behalf of the Missouri General Assembly for a permanent electronic identification system for red-meat producing livestock (HCR 3) and a high-level biosafety lab facility to be located at the University of Missouri at Columbia (HCR 5). Proponents testifying in favor of both concurrent resolutions were the State Veterinarian, the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, the Missouri Cattlemen's Association, and MFB.

The House Conservation and Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Representative Townley, finished hearing testimony on HB 215, sponsored by Representative Myers, to specify that environmental regulations issued by DNR be no stricter than federal standards unless circumstances warrant more stringent regulations. In addition to the proponents who testified last week, the City Administrator for Mountain View testified in support of the bill. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Missouri Attorney General's office, Representative Belinda Harris, Sierra Club, and the Missouri Coalition for the Environment testified in opposition to the bill.

The Senate Committee on Financial and Governmental Organization, Veterans' Affairs and Elections, chaired by Senator Yeckel, heard testimony on SB 65, sponsored by Senator Goode, to regulate the disturbance of unmarked burial grounds and associated cultural items. Because this bill would significantly increase the liability of a landowner who inadvertently disturbs an unmarked burial site and/or associated cultural items and would give DNR new regulatory authority in this regard, MFB testified in opposition. DNR, MoDOT, and the Missouri Association of Professional Archaeologists testified in support.

Other Bills of Interest

HB 447, sponsored by Representative Townley, would strengthen landowner protection from condemnation consistent with MFB policy. Also pertaining to eminent domain, Senator Steelman has introduced SB 389, to include the current and anticipated use of property and loss of income in assessments of damages to landowners whose property is condemned.

SB 360, sponsored by Senator Steelman, would protect landowners' rights to have sand and gravel removed from streams without a permit by small excavating operations when industry standards for in-stream sand and gravel mining are followed.

A more complete list of bills of interest will be presented at the MFB Legislative Briefing on February 25.

NATIONAL ISSUES

Congress Passes Omnibus Appropriations Bill Including Disaster Aid

The House-Senate conference committee finished negotiations on the FY03 omnibus appropriations bill late this week. On Thursday, the House voted 338 to 83 in favor of the bill. The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 76 to 20. The $397 billion spending package must now be signed by President Bush.

Throughout the debate, emergency disaster assistance was one of Farm Bureau's top priorities. In the January 24th edition of the Capitol Connection, we reported that the Senate had passed a $3.1 billion disaster aid bill to be funded from a 1.6 percent across-the-board cut to the federal budget. House members expressed concern that the aid should be more targeted and questioned the budget cuts. After extensive debate, the House-Senate conference committee members agreed upon a $3.1 billion package better targeted to those producers who have suffered the most. While Farm Bureau opposed reopening the farm bill, funding for the disaster assistance will be derived from the Conservation Security Program (CSP), which has yet to be implemented. A brief summary of the bill is attached. Missouri River Amendment Left Out of Omnibus Appropriations Bill

Last month, Senator Bond proposed an amendment to the Interior Appropriations Bill that would have prohibited the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from using funds to require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to implement a steady release flow schedule for the Missouri River or to prevent the Corps from relocating bird nests along the Missouri River. The amendment would have allowed the Corps to implement a flow-to-target release schedule, saving up to 800,000 acre-feet of water in the upper basin reservoirs and meeting minimum service navigation levels.

Earlier this week, Senator Bond's amendment was defeated in the House-Senate conference committee. We appreciate the efforts of the Missouri delegation to generate support among the House and Senate leadership and members on this issue. Thank you to Representatives Hulshof, Skelton, Emerson and Akin for signing a letter in support of the Bond amendment.

Please note, flow-to-target releases and bird relocation are still a possibility as the Corps and FWS may come to an agreement in their formal consultations to allow those features to be implemented for '03 river management.

Brazil Requests WTO Case Against U.S. Cotton Subsidies

Brazilian officials have decided to take action against the U.S. regarding subsidies to cotton producers. The officials claim the subsidies received by cotton producers have resulted in overproduction and a large increase in U.S. cotton exports. Trade officials from both nations met in December to discuss the issue, however, an agreement was not reached. Brazil has now requested that the WTO dispute panel rule on this issue.

Ethanol Reduced Greenhouse Gases in 2002

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) announced last week that the use of ethanol-blended fuels reduced greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 4.3 million tons in the U.S. during 2002. This reduction is equivalent to removing the annual greenhouse gas emissions of more than 636,000 cars from the roads. Prior studies have shown that ethanol-blended fuels reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other gases associated with global warming.

AFBF Files Petition Regarding Clean Water Act Case

The American Farm Bureau Federation, California Farm Bureau Federation, Mendocino County Farm Bureau and Mendocino County landowners Guido and Betty Pronsolino have filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a Clean Water Act (CWA) case that could adversely affect farmers and ranchers across the country.

In the case Pronsolino v. Nastri, a trial court ruled and the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court upheld that non-point sources of water pollution are subject to EPA's total maximum daily load (TMDL) regulations even though federal regulation is restricted to only point source pollutants. Point source pollutants include mostly industrial and municipal waste. Non-point source pollutants, such as run-off from farms, forests and suburban lawns, are unpredictable and difficult to measure. Farm Bureau argues that is the very reason Congress intended that direct federal regulation under the CWA apply to point source pollutants only.

The government will have the opportunity to respond to the petition, after which the Farm Bureau petitioners will reply. Farm Bureau will know by June if the U.S. Supreme Court will accept the appeal.

Garrett Hawkins, Director State & Local Governmental Affairs National Legislative Programs

573-893-1408

ghawkins@mofb.com

Estil Fretwell, Director Public Affairs

573-893-1467

efretwell@mofb.com

http://www.mofb.com