ASA: Impact of continuing resolution on soybean farmers
In response to the signing into law of the Continuing Resolution (CR) by President Barack Obama this week, the American Soybean Association (ASA) has examined the ramifications for soybean farmers contained in the measure, which funds the federal government through the end of the 2013 fiscal year on Sept. 30.
“This was a large piece of legislation with many different aspects affecting many different industries. While it’s only a temporary extension for the next six months, it was necessary for us to step back and look at exactly which programs soybean farmers use most will be impacted,” said ASA President Danny Murphy, a soybean farmer from Canton, Miss.
While the sequestration is separate from the CR, Congress allowed sequestration to stand, resulting in an across-the-board reduction in funding for most federal programs by 5.2 percent This follows the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011, which placed caps on each of the annual appropriations bills through 2021, including the Agricultural Appropriations bill. Additionally, the CR includes an additional 2.5 percent cut in discretionary spending that USDA will have to carry out before the end of FY13.
The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), a priority for ASA, was not only funded in the CR, but it was one of the few programs for which funding was increased. The program is now funded at $274.8 million, $10 million more than in FY2012. As a discretionary program, however, AFRI will be subject to USDA’s 2.5 percent reduction within the next six months. Appropriations for research at land-grant universities (often called "capacity funding"), which fund ARS and extension activities, all suffered a cut of 7.61 percent from last year's funding levels.
The CR restores funding to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), but reduces the cap on acreage enrolled in the program this year by 740,000 acres. Following the reduction, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will enroll only 12 million acres in the program in FY2013. This was a priority for ASA within the larger discussion of budget constraints and farm programs.
The CR included an amendment introduced by Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) that postpones the enforcement date for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) specifications, which would have required that oil storage facilities with a capacity of over 1,320 gallons make structural improvements to reduce the possibility of oil spills. The plan requires farmers to construct a containment facility, like a dike or a basin, which must retain 110 percent of the fuel in the container.