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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INTEGRIS welcomes 1,000th birth since opening in October 2011
Being the father of a new baby boy is pretty exciting, but being the father of INTEGRIS Health Edmond’s 1,000th baby made it even more special.
“When we got to the hospital, the night-shift nurse told us we were in a race with another couple who had gotten there at 7 a.m.,” said Bryan Lane, the new baby’s father.
Oklahoma County Free Fair offers competition, free fun
Oklahoma County residents are invited to compete in the 100th annual Oklahoma County Free Fair as they take part in many activities scheduled just for them.
The county fair will get underway Aug. 21-23 at the Oklahoma State Fair Park and will be highlighted by its open adult and youth along with 4-H and Oklahoma Home and Community Education categories, as well as its special contest and activities.
Great Expectations names 4 Edmond public schools ‘Model Schools’
Great Expectations, a non-profit foundation that provides intensive professional development to teachers and administrators, announces four Edmond Public Schools have earned the organization’s highest distinction: Model School. Based on Great Expectations theory implementation, there are three categories of recognition, including Transitional School, Progressive School and Model School.
Grieving children find support at Calm Waters
Calm Waters Center for Children and Families offers free support groups for children, ages 3–18 and their families whose lives have been affected by death or divorce.
Oklahoma continues to rank among the top states in the nation for unintentional and premature deaths, leaving single parents raising children. Additionally, Oklahoma continues to have one of the highest divorce rates per capita in the nation. These tragedies leave children feeling isolated, sad, and uncertain.
Church hosts adult Vacation BIble School
“Jesus is the Source” will be the theme of Edmond First Church of the Nazarene’s second annual adult Vacation BIble School.
The progam will be from 6-8:30 p.m. Aug. 4-7 at the church, located at 3001 S. Boulevard. It will include a light supper at 6 p.m. and songs, games, storytelling and crafts beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Presenters will include members of the congregation acting as Bible characters and a special performer will be in from Texas.
67 cops die on duty across country
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund reports that 67 officers have been killed in the line of duty during the first half of 2014 — a 31 percent increase from the same period last year.
Of these 67 officers, 26 were killed in traffic-related incidents, 25 were killed by gunfire and 16 died due to job-related illnesses and other causes. California led all states with eight officer fatalities followed by Florida, New York, Texas and Virginia each with four peace officer fatalities.
Lankford, rest of Oklahoma delegation vote to sue president
A Democratic leader said the House does not have standing to sue the president after members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation voted to do just that.
At 6:28 p.m. Wednesday, members of the House approved by a 225-201 partisan margin H. Res. 676, which gives House leadership the authority to file a lawsuit challenging actions by President Barack Obam
UCO, local Y create community garden
A new community garden is providing a transformative learning opportunity for students and helping stock UCO’s Central Pantry.
The University of Central Oklahoma’s Volunteer and Service Learning Center and the Edmond Rankin YMCA are sponsoring the garden, providing a transformative learning opportunity for students, and organic fruits, vegetables and herbs for the food bank.
DOC action could save $36.8 million annually
The Oklahoma Department of Corrections expects to avert more than 2,100 offenders by 2021 saving more than $36.8 million annually, an audit states.
Tuesday, State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones released the results of a performance audit of the DOC that was requested by Gov. Mary Fallin. The audit for the period July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2013, distinctly focused on governance, financial management and capacity management.
Audit recommendations included:
Regional Food Bank receives donation
At a special celebration event Wednesday, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation announced that over the last fiscal year they gave more than $30 million in cash and in-kind contributions to charitable organizations throughout Oklahoma. Additionally, the retailer and its Foundation have partnered with local food banks to provide more than 15 million pounds of food to residents.
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