Ag Policy Blog
Todd Neeley DTN Staff Reporter

Wednesday 07/09/14

Amendments Blocked on Sportsmen's Bill

The "Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act" on Wednesday appeared to be a butting of heads that could potentially derail the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pushed to limit debate and halt amendments because of fears that senators from both parties would seek amendments on gun control. He filed cloture on the bill to block amendments.

Meanwhile, some Republican senators filed an amendment to the bill that would limit the ability of USDA or the Department of Interior to change land management practices because of the Lesser Prairie Chicken. Kansas Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran maintain that prairie chicken numbers are increasing in areas that have seen some relief from drought.

“This amendment will protect farmers and ranchers, who are also suffering from the effects of drought, from having to change their operations and land management due to the listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken," Roberts said.

The amendment is also cosponsored by Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

A chronic issue about journalists' ability to film in national parks, national forests and other federally managed lands has reared its head again, in a catch-all bill ostensibly aimed at boosting hunting and fishing on public lands. Under "miscellaneous," S2363, the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2014 calls for the Depts of Interior and Agriculture to require permits, fees and advance notice for "commercial" film crews of five or fewer. That term "commercial" is not defined in the bill, which is a major concern, as some federal lands managers have dubbed newspapers, TV and radio stations and even public broadcasting as "commercial" enterprises.

Journalists also have a dog in the fight over the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act. A provision in the bill would allow USDA and Department of Interior to collect $200 commercial permit feeds for filming in national parks. Journalist organizations are raising questions about the term "commercial."

More than 60 Groups Push Immigration Reform

The American Farm Bureau issued a news release Wednesday on the National Day for Immigration Reform. The event went on despite the lack of interest in the House of Representatives in taking up the issue.

Farm leaders and top business association CEOs held a press conference at the Capitol on the topic. Other events were held by local business leaders in states around the country as well.

“Immigration reform is critical for the agricultural industry,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “Many farmers rely on an immigrant labor force and without reform, growers will begin to plant less labor intensive crops or food production will go off shore. Simply put, either we import our labor or we import our food.”

Stallman said the country cannot afford not to act. “As a nation, we can’t afford to continue with an immigration system we’ve long outgrown and is working more and more against our overall national interest. We urge Congress and the administration to work together and with us to achieve real immigration reform that addresses the needs of farmers and the economy, as well as the country’s need for border security,” he said.

The effect of inaction on immigration reform is devastating to the fresh produce industry, said Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers. "We rely on people to plant and harvest the nutritious and domestic supply of food for Americans and for export. Many of these workers are unauthorized, but are willing and able to do the work. It’s been demonstrated many times that Americans won’t work in the fields, so why won’t our elected officials provide us the means to have a legal, reliable workforce? If no solution is provided, production will continue to move overseas along with the jobs agriculture supports in rural communities across America."

Posted at 4:19PM CDT 07/09/14 by Todd Neeley
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