Friday, March 18, 2011

Mississippi River Basin Water Resource News for the Week

House Agriculture Committee Sends Budget Recommendations to Budget Committee
On March 15 the House Agriculture Committee adopted and then sent a letter to the House Budget Committee containing recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2012 budget cycle, with respect to the agencies and programs under the Agriculture Committee's jurisdiction (including the USDA).   Within that context, the letter also explains how the Committee intends to prepare for drafting the 2012 Farm Bill. 
The letter notes that "(t)he main component of the farm bill preparation will be an "audit" or inventory of all policies under the Agriculture Committee's jurisdiction, including those relating to . . . conservation.  This audit along with field hearings and hearings in Washington with affected groups will establish the framework with which the Committee will make decisions on which programs to prioritize and which programs need to be eliminated or consolidated."

Providing input to individual Agriculture Committee members (see here for member listing) that would inform the Committee audit, or providing input at the appropriate Committee hearings would be opportunities for those desiring to influence the nature and scope of the next Farm Bill.

Ferd Hoefner of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has prepared a concise and substantive review of the House Agriculture Committee letter, and puts it into a farm and natural resource conservation context very well.  You can read Ferd's analysis here.

Notable @UpperMiss Twitter Postings for the Week
Agriculture -
  • Ag land field tile and flooding a topic at MN State Senate ag committee hearing
  • FDIC conference summary: "Don’t Bet the Farm: Assessing the Boom in U.S. Farmland Prices"
  • EPA broiled in House Ag Subcommittee hearing re: Chesapeake Bay TMDL, farm practices & implications on US watersheds
  • USDA's NRCS Chief White confident that Chesapeake watershed farmers on track to complying with tightening TMDL
  • Agriculture Committee Chair Lucas: Conservation Reserve Program & $5 B/yr direct payments could be cut from Farm Bill
  • Senate Agriculture Chair Stabenow-Budget decisions regarding agriculture should not be made until 2012 farm bill
  • Data from field trials: Corn may be more vulnerable to global warming than previously thought
  • Federal court: EPA can't require CAFOs to obtain Clean Water Act permits until manure discharges into water of the US
  • Sens. Klobuchar & Lugar introduce bill to appoint 3 members to EPA Science Advisory Board with agricultural background
  • Chesapeake Bay-farm issues subject of USDA report & & House hearing
Water Quality-
  • USGS documents phosphorus sources for estuaries/bays along South Atlantic & Gulf Coast &
  • New journal article: "TMDL Implementation in Agricultural Landscapes: A Communicative and Systemic Approach"
  • Senators propose bill to provide loans & loan guarantees for large energy, water & transportation infrastructure projects
  • EPA's new memo/guidance on working with states to achieve reductions in phosphorus & nitrogen water pollution
In the States -
  • Former WI DNR official: rollbacks of clean water regs in Gov's proposed budget could put WI in violation of US laws
  • GOP members bring new priorities to MN panel that directs $ to environmental projects
  • MN state bill would relax rules aimed at replacing wetlands lost to development of northern MN mines
  • Koch Industries accused of polluting Arkansas waterway
Flooding, Floodplains, Dams and Navigation -
Federal Budget -
2011 Budget
  • House Appropriations Committee Introduces Three Week Continuing Resolution; reduces/terminates 25 programs
  • 271-158 vote on House stopgap spending bill Tuesday revealed splits in both parties (bill moves to Senate)
  • Senate  approves legislation to fund government 3 more weeks; 2 parties $50 billion apart on long-term bill
2012 Budget
  • House Agri Committee adopts FY 2012 budget recommendations for its agencies/programs (includes USDA) (pdf file)
Events -
  • USDA & Farm Foundation co-hosting National Agricultural Landscape Forum Washington DC April 7-8; info/register
  • EPA Regional Administrator Brooks to host Regulatory Reform Listening Session; March 15; Springfield, MO
  • 4th National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration (NCER) 2011; Baltimore, MD August 1-5
  • Free EPA Webcast: Nitrogen and Phosphorus Pollution Series: Nitrate in Ground Water March 29; register:
  • 12th annual “Protecting the St. Croix Basin” conference; April 5, University Center, River Falls, WI
  • 29th Annual National Conference Native American Fish and Wildlife Society; May 3-5, Crazy Horse, SD
Biodiversity, Wildlife and Invasives -
Other news-
  • EPA Announces Public Comment Period for Draft Report, Aquatic Ecosystems, Water Quality & Global Change (pdf)
  • Corps of Engineers' $2.9 B plan to rebuild wetlands destroyed by Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet faulted
Political Scene -
  • Poll: Former AR Gov. Huckabee & Rep. Bachmann (MN) have highest positive intensity of possible GOP prez candidates
  • OH has buyer's remorse over new Gov: In hypothetical rematch of Nov vote Strickland (D) beats Gov Kasich (R), 55-40%
Last word
"I like hearing things incorrectly. I think that’s how I get a lot of ideas is by mishearing something."  - Singer-songwriter Tom Waits (inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year) . . . and here's a link to a live video recording of one of his famous songs: "Let It Rain"

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