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Commodity Communicator Weekly

March 22, 2013

2013 PLANTING INTENTIONS REPORT WEBINAR. . . . .Thursday, March 28 at 12:30 p.m. . . . .The USDA will release its 2013 planting intentions report.  Join Gene Martin, Farm Bureau Senior Market Analyst and Scott Stiles, UAEX Economist will break down the report and give insight into how the report will affect the markets.  

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SENATE APPROVES CONTINUING RESOLUTION. . . . .The Senate on Wednesday passed a continuing resolution to keep the government open beyond March 27, when the current continuing resolution expires. The newest CR would fund the government through Sept. 30, 2013, the end of fiscal 2013.  
 
The bill allows Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to move funds around and avoid furloughing federal meat inspectors in order to meet sequestration requirements, which took effect March 1. Without that flexibility, 11 days of furloughs for meat inspectors would need to be put in place between July and September. About $55 million from USDA’s buildings maintenance and school equipment grants will be transferred to the Food Safety and Inspection Service to pay for meat inspectors.
 
The bill will now be sent to the House Budget Committee for consideration. Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) recently said changes to the Senate bill would be unlikely. “As long as they hit the numbers, we’re good to go,” Ryan said. “I have every reason to believe that that’s the case.”


DIRECT PAYMENT REDUCTIONS ON TAP DUE TO THE SEQUESTER. . . . .USDA’s Farm Service Agency temporarily suspended disbursement of payments for many FSA programs on March 1. On Wednesday, USDA notified Congress of its intention to capture  required sequester savings by reducing payments made through the direct payment program account by up to 8.5 percent.
 
A 30-day congressional notification period must pass before USDA moves forward. Therefore, payments in the following programs will continue to be deferred for the next 30 days: 2011 Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program, Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program for both 2012 and 2013 crop years, and the Milk Income Loss Contract Program. After 30 days, USDA intends to resume making these program payments in full.
 
A reduction only to direct payments will minimize disruption to farmers and ranchers who have already received and will soon be seeking disaster assistance through SURE or NAP. It will allow producers who suffered disasters to be fully paid, and it will avoid having to require approximately 350,000 producers to refund 5.1 percent of the payments they have already received. It will also prevent USDA from incurring a significant administrative burden that would be required to recoup these payments.

EPA SPILL PREVENTION RULE COMPLIANCE DEADLINE MAY 10. . . . .The final deadline for farms to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency's Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure Rule (SPCC) for the regulation of aboveground oil storage in tanks and other containers is May 10.  The rule calls for such things as secondary containment walls, regular inspections of tanks and piping, and creation of an SPCC plan that has to be kept onsite.  For some storage tanks, a professional engineer must be hired to oversee development.

EPA has a dedicated webpage to assist with compliance of the SPCC regulation for farmers storing more than 1,320 gallons of oil.  In addition, EPA partnered with Asmark and The Fertilizer Institute to create an online tool to help prepare self-certified SPCC plans.  If you store 10,000 gallons or less of oil and have a clean oil spill history, you may be eligible to prepare a self-certified plan.   


ADEQ INITIATES RULEMAKING ON REGULATION 2
. . . . . On Friday, February 22, the Arkansas Pollution Control & Ecology Commission (APCEC) approved the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality’s (ADEQ’s) request to initiate rulemaking on Regulation 2. ADEQ Reg 2 establishes the state’s water quality standards.

To view the draft changes, click on the following link: ADEQ - Reg 2 Proposed Changes.

Four public hearings have been scheduled:

April 15- Jonesboro – 6 p.m.- Allen Park Community Center
April 18 – Fayetteville- 6 p.m.- Fayetteville City Administration Bldg, Room 219
April 22- El Dorado- 6 p.m. – South Arkansas Community College, East Campus, Workforce    Development Bldg.
April 24 – North Little Rock- 2 p.m. – ADEQ Headquarters, Commission Room

Written and electronic mail comments will be accepted until 4:30 p.m. May 8.  

Send written comments to:  Doug Szenher, Public Outreach and Assistance Division, Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, 5301 Northshore Drive, North Little Rock, AR 72118

Sent e-mail comments to: reg-comment@adeq.state.ar.us


CLEARVALUE HEARING HEALTHCARE BENEFITS PLAN . . . Members can save up to 25 percent on hearing-loss equipment and services. For program details, visit http://www.arfb.com/member_services/hearing/


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