Congress is scheduled to finally consider an agreement (S. 365) that would raise the debt ceiling by at least $2.1 trillion and cut spending by $2.5 trillion over the next 10 years. Both will be in two+ steps: 1) $917 billion in discretionary spending cuts for FY 2012-21 with an immediate debt ceiling increase of $400 billion and an additional $500 billion later this year and 2) at least $1.2 billion in spending cuts divided evenly between defense and domestic spending with an additional debt ceiling increase of at least $1.2 trillion. No mandatory agricultural cuts are slated for the initial steps, but farm bill funding will come under fire in the second round of cuts.
The S. 365 legislation also proposes a joint committee to find the additional $1.2 trillion in spending cuts with their recommendation due by Thanksgiving and a guaranteed up or down vote with no amendments in both chambers by Dec. 23. If the committee fails or Congress doesn’t approve spending cuts of at least $1.2 trillion by the deadline, across-the-board cuts will be triggered automatically and evenly from defense and non-defense discretionary and mandatory spending. However, there will be exemptions for many low-income programs.
The U.S. Canola Association (USCA) submitted a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on Aug. 1 regarding the agency’s 30-day request for public comment on agricultural transportation issues. The USCA urged the DOT to repeal current guidelines that define agricultural products and operations as interstate commerce, arguing this “could result in farmers being forced to obtain commercial drivers licenses, federal medical cards and more.”