It was a good news, bad news day for Oklahoma’s agricultural producers.
The state’s farmers and ranchers found a nine-month measure of certainty in Congress’ resolution to the “fiscal cliff” crisis. The cliff deal included a one-year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill. The bill expired Sept. 30, 2012, and the deal essentially re-authorizes the farm bill until Sept. 30.
The extension means negotiations will begin anew on a five-year farm bill. The plans approved by the House Agriculture Committee and full Senate may be moot. Lawmakers may find it harder to pass a farm bill in 2013 as Congress starts searching for ways to cut costs on March 1.
The agriculture committees in Congress can continue to work on a five-year comprehensive farm bill, said U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla.. Lucas is chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture.
Lucas was one of 85 Republicans to join 173 Democrats to pass the “American Taxpayer Relief Act” on Tuesday.
“I am pleased the House passed H.R. 8, The American Taxpayer Relief Act on Tuesday,” Lucas said. “... Specifically, this bill locks in place current tax rates for middle class families, provides a permanent patch for the alternative minimum tax and holds down the death tax for farmers and ranchers.”
The extension keeps many farm programs — including direct payment and crop insurance — intact, said Oklahoma State University assistant professor Jody Campiche. Her specialty is agricultural policy.
It also prevents dairy subsidies from reverting to 1949 levels, which could have caused milk prices to double to approximately $7 a gallon.
The package doesn’t provide money for agricultural disaster relief programs that have expired, Campiche said. Disaster relief is one of approximately three dozen without funding.
Livestock support programs expired Sept. 30, 2011. A provision in the package would restore those programs for 2012 and 2013 if Congress appropriates money to fund them.
“There’s a good chance they will get funded,” she said.
Congress will start looking for spending cuts March 1. Appropriations for livestock support programs as well as funding for a new five-year farm bill will be hard to come by, Campiche said.
“In general theory, it would have been better if the five-year farm bill had been passed by the current Congress,” she said.
Some of the provisions of the 2012 Farm Bill, passed by the Senate and House agriculture committee, but never brought to the full House for a vote, might be incorporated into the replacement bill.
Farm bills are usually passed every five years. They set policy and fund U.S. Department of Agriculture programs, including food stamps and crop subsidies.
An extension to a farm bill is rare, according to the Congressional Research Service’s Expiration and Possible Extension of the 2008 Farm Bill report, which was issued on Nov. 16.
Since 1973, only the 2002 farm bill needed an extension, according to the report.
“It’s not unusual at all for a farm bill to expire,” Campiche said, adding it is rare for one to be left for a new Congress.
Congress is expected to look deeply into food and nutrition programs to cut spending. Its stance on strictly agricultural programs is unknown.
So is a timetable for passing a new farm bill, Campiche said.
“It could be early in the year or it could be September,” she said.
It was a good news, bad news day for Oklahoma’s agricultural producers.
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SLIDESHOW: Freezing temps keep many at home Friday
Edmond residents awoke to a winter wonderland and the realities of getting to their vehicles and driving on snow-packed streets. Even though the storm system began moving out of Oklahoma Friday, a state official cautioned residents to not disregard safety measures too soon.
During the coming days, the Edmond area will experience sub-freezing daytime temperatures and nighttime lows in the teens and single digits.
Logan Co. investigation nets 7 arrests
Logan County officers made seven arrests in an investigation stemming from the reported theft of a $45,000 John Deere Skid Steer, police said.
Friday morning, after a week-long investigation, Logan County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Richard Stephens said earlier in the week the agency responded to a complaint from a victim of a larceny who had his John Deere Skid Steer stolen from Oklahoma City.
VIDEO: World reacts to death of Mandela
Nelson Mandela spent nearly a third of his life as a prisoner of apartheid before leading South Africa in a relatively peaceful transition of power that inspired the world. The iconic figure died Thursday at the age of 95.
Slick, hazardous streets cause more cancellations
Thursday's snow and sleet fall in Edmond and across the metro continues to impact schedules and events planned for this weekend.
South Africans mourn Nelson Mandela's death
South Africans flocked to the Johannesburg home of Nelson Mandela to mourn his death and pay tribute to a leader who led the nation out of racial discord by encouraging reconciliation.
Snow chances, bitter cold continue for Edmond
Snow chances and bitter cold temperatures continue for Edmond on the heels of the storm that created slick and hazardous streets.
The National Weather Service forecast called for a 40 percent chance of snow tonight and a 20 percent chance Sunday.
In addition to the slick and hazardous streets and highways, residents dealt with bitter cold temperatures. Highs were expected near 22 degrees on Friday, 20 on Saturday, 26 on Sunday and 22 on Monday. Lows were expected near 5 degrees Friday, 17 Saturday, 15 Sunday and 8 Monday.
Thursday evening, slick, snow-covered streets created havoc in Edmond as commuters and other motorists traveled to their destinations. Edmond Police Department spokeswoman Jenny Monroe said police officers were responding only to injury crashes.
Planners look at retail/urban housing mixes in downtown
A presentation by Freese Nichols consultants of Fort Worth was made Wednesday to city staff and leaders regarding the Downtown Master Plan.
The Central Edmond Urban Development Board has revisited plans made in a 1998 Downtown Master Plan through public meetings and presentations to protect the future development of Broadway.
“Right now we are at the point of providing an assessment of not only the physical environment, but also the market conditions,” said Wendy Shabay, an associate urban planner with Freese Nichols. The next meeting in January will focus on recommendations.
Volunteers keep HOPE Center afloat
HOPE Center of Edmond is the community’s compassionate response to families needing a helping hand. Giving of one’s time is valuable when it comes to helping the HOPE Center of Edmond fulfill its charitable mission.
The food and clothing closet for Edmond area residents offers a health clinic and limited emergency financial assistance for rent and utilities, said Chris Sperry, executive director. The HOPE Health Clinic focuses on pre-natal and obstetrics care for women.
The annual Edmond Sun Samaritan Fund Drive has set a goal of raising $165,000 for HOPE.
Nearly 14,000 hours were donated by HOPE volunteers in 2012, Sperry said. Their hard work has a lasting impact on the community, she said. Many HOPE volunteers were themselves clients at one time needing temporary assistance.
St. Anthony announces new outpatient behavioral health facility in Edmond
St. Anthony is pleased to announce the opening of the new Outpatient Behavioral Health Edmond facility which will offer partial hospitalization programs as well as Intensive outpatient programs for both adult and senior patients.
These programs are designed to help those dealing with grief, trauma, depression, anxiety, anger control problems, panic attacks, poor overall functioning and other mental health issues.
Thunder plans Holiday Assist toy drive
The Oklahoma City Thunder will have a Toy Drive before Sunday night’s game against the Indiana Pacers, collecting toys outside of Chesapeake Energy Arena starting at 4 p.m. The Toy Drive is part of the sixth annual Thunder Holiday Assist initiative, presented by Cox Communications.
Fans attending the game and those headed downtown Sunday evening are encouraged to stop by the tents outside the northeast and northwest arena entrances and donate new, unwrapped toys to benefit the Salvation Army Angel Tree program.
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