Drought front and center in nation's capital
Participants of the IFB Marketers to Washington trip on Wednesday met with representatives of various federal agencies, including USDA, EPA, and the Risk Managment Agency (RMA).
Published: Aug 8, 2012
But the main topic was the same at each stop - the drought.
Agency leaders and representatives told IFB members the drought this year not only will have a negative impact on crop yields but also will affect everything from crop insurance claims and exports to the amount of pressure on EPA to grant a waiver of the Renewable Fuels Standard.
"It (the drought) really is front and center," Krysta Harden, USDA chief of staff, said. "It's the focus of everything we do."
USDA this week announced it will use an additional $30 million to assist crop and livestock producers struggling with the drought. The agency also is attempting to calm fears about the possibility of higher food prices.
"We continue to ask growers about things we can do within our existing authority," Harden said.
Michael Alston, deputy administrator for insurance services with RMA, believes many farmers will have to deal with high aflatoxin levels when they harvest this year's corn crop.
"If you start shelling corn and you have aflatoxin, contact your insurance agency," said Alston, who noted one of his main concerns right now is getting enough insurance adjusters to fields so farmers can file timely claims.
At EPA, Larry Elworth, ag counselor to Administrator Lisa Jackson, said the agency is under pressure from livestock groups to grant a waiver for the RFS. But changing the mandate could affect prices and demand for ag commodities.
"We have to make darn sure what we're doing actually helps solve the problem," Elworth said.
In what appears to be good news for farmers, EPA currently has no plans to advance possible regulations for dust, Elworth added.
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