NAMA News June 1, 2012June 1, 2012
House Passes FDA User Fee Bill Without Fees on Food Facilities
USDA Accepting 3.9 Million Acres into CRP; Slight Net Decrease Expected
Food Assistance Funding Reduced in House and Senate Farm Bills
USDA Study Finds a Healthy Diet (Including Grains-Based Foods) Is Economical
53rd Annual Corn Dry Milling Conference Held in Peoria
Legislation to reauthorize Food and Drug Administration user fee programs passed the House Wednesday without including fees on food facilities. The Senate passed its version of the bill last week. Both measures would reauthorize the FDA’s ability to collect user fees from drug and device companies for five years. NAMA has worked with other stakeholders to vigorously oppose new user fees on food facilities to fund the agency’s food safety activities under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
The milling industry is committed to food safety and to providing safe, wholesome foods. NAMA supports funding the FSMA by appropriating sufficient federal funds rather than by imposing new food taxes or regulatory fees on food facilities. New user fees would mean higher costs for food makers and lead to higher food prices for consumers.
The House and Senate are now expected to begin the conference committee process to reconcile differences and set up votes in both chambers for final passage by a July 4 target date.
USDA announced last week that it will accept 3.9 million acres into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) in 2012. Currently in the program are 29.6 million acres, with contracts for 6.5 million acres set to expire in 2012.
Legislation now caps the CRP at 32 million acres. President Obama has said the cap should be reduced to 30 million acres, and the Senate Agriculture Committee passed its version of the Farm Bill with a 25 million acre cap.
NAMA has been working in coalition with the National Grain and Feed Association and the National Oilseed Processors Association to brief Congressional staff on the need to bring nonsensitive lands back into production to respond to market demands. The coalition estimates that more than 8 million acres of land identified as Class 1 and 2 could be brought back into production without sacrificing environmental goals, as the acres are so sustainable that USDA does not require a soil management plan for them. The coalition will seek to make additional progress during Farm Bill deliberations.
The Senate version of the Farm Bill, approved by the Senate Agriculture Committee in April and officially introduced at the end of May, contains a proposal to cut approximately $4.5 billion in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, formerly known as Food Stamps, over a 10-year period. The full Senate is expected to vote on the measure early in June.
The House bill, still in the House Agriculture Committee, reduces SNAP funding by nearly $36 billion over 10 years. The House Ag Committee was required to find a total savings of $33 billion over 10 years and exceeded that goal by $2.6 billion. All of the cuts come from SNAP funding. House Ag Committee leaders have said they expect to mark up their Farm Bill the last half of June.
Food Stamps and other federal spending are on the table as budget writers try to craft a plan that avoids about $98 billion in across-the-board, automatic cuts triggered by the failure of the “Super Committee” last year. The Budget Control Act requires $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts equally divided between defense and domestic programs over the next decade, with the first $109 billion due to take effect January 2, 2013.
In fiscal year 2011, SNAP served nearly 45 million people, about one in seven Americans, and provided about $134 per person each month to be spent solely on food items.
Last month, the Economic Research Service of USDA presented a report that looked at the costs of a healthy diet by measuring the cost of food per portion usually eaten. Previously, the cost had been broken down by calorie.
Under the per-calorie method, an apple provides fewer calories than a bag of candy, but if both were the same price, the apple would appear to be more expensive in that the cost per calorie would be more for the apple than for the sweets.
The new analysis shows healthy foods are less expensive than less healthy options and may be less costly than assumed to meet MyPlate guidelines.
Additionally, grains were shown to be among the most affordable of the food groups. The authors found that meeting the daily MyPlate requirements for grains, fruit, and dairy costs less than meeting the protein and vegetable requirements.
NAMA, in partnership with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, held its 53rd Annual Corn Dry Milling Conference at the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR) in Peoria, Illinois. In addition to NAMA members, USDA officials, university representatives, and technology companies attended the conference. Peter Riley, a member of the economic policy and analysis staff at USDA’s Farm Service Agency, spoke about the U.S. corn market outlook, saying that a huge supply increase is in store, with a predicted record 2012 crop. Riley suggested that there would be no growth in the 2012/2013 ethanol market due to the approaching blend wall, combined with the recession-driven decline in gas consumption. Other topics included an overview of the 2012 Farm Bill, and field-to-market sustainability.
For more information about NAMA issues, meetings, membership and staff, go to http://www.namamillers.org.
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