Farm Policy Roundup—July 25, 2014

Appropriations, Tax Extenders Update

iStock_000000142578MediumCongress enters its final week of legislative session on July 28 before entering a month-long recess August 1. While key votes have been taken in recent weeks to approve multiple appropriations bills and to extend important tax provisions, it appears unlikely that further Congressional action will occur this summer.
This week, Congressional leaders announced intent to pass a short term funding bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), through mid-November, to keep the federal government operational into fiscal year 2015 (FY15). The FY15 Agriculture Appropriations bill has not been considered on the floor of either chamber. The House voted last week to permanently extend important charitable and conservation tax incentives, including the Enhanced Conservation Easement Deduction, however it is unlikely the Senate will consider tax extenders until November.

White House Council Announces New Rural Investment Fund

The White House Rural Council announced at the White House Rural Opportunity Investment Conference the creation of the new Rural Infrastructure Opportunity Fund through which private entities can invest in rural infrastructure projects. American Farmland Trust President and CEO Andrew McElwaine participated in the White House Rural Opportunity Investment Conference.

Investments will include hospitals, schools and other educational facilities, rural water and wastewater systems, energy projects, broadband expansion, local and regional food systems, and other rural infrastructure. The national cooperative bank CoBank has committed an initial $10 billion to the fund. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and other federal agencies will help to identify rural projects for funding.

The White House Rural Opportunity Investment Conference brought together leaders from the business community and financial institutions, senior government officials, rural economic development experts and others to discuss ways to develop partnerships that benefit rural America.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Issues Conservation Compliance Information

The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued information reminding producers that changes mandated through the 2014 Farm Bill require them to have on file a Highly Erodible Land (HEL) Conservation and Wetland Conservation Certification (AD-1026). The Farm Bill relinked HEL conservation and wetland conservation compliance with eligibility for premium support paid under the federal crop insurance program.

For farmers to be eligible for premium support on their federal crop insurance, a completed and signed AD-1026 form must be on file with the Farm Service Agency (FSA). Since many FSA and Natural Resource Conservation (NRCS) programs already have a conservation compliance requirement, most producers should already have an AD-1026 on file. If producers have not filed, they must do so by June 1, 2015.

More information is available from USDA

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