• Ledyard King reported yesterday at the Argus Leader Online (SD) that, “Get ready for some pain. “South Dakota Sens. Tim Johnson and John Thune say they welcome President Obama’s call for a five-year freeze on discretionary spending and an end to pork-barrel earmarks even though it probably will stunt – if not slice into – many important programs that benefit the state.
    “‘Right now, we have got to deal with the fact that we’ve got a $14.3 trillion debt that’s growing by over $1 trillion every year with no end in sight and presents, in my judgment, a huge, huge cloud over the American economy,’ Thune, a Republican, told reporters Wednesday. ‘We’re going to have to make some hard decisions. We’ve put them off for way too long.’”
    The article added that, “Thune also thinks direct farm payments are in jeopardy if true spending reform is adopted.
    “‘The next farm bill is going to be more difficult for sure because the budgetary constraints that we face today and the budgetary environment that we’re in is going to subject every aspect of the budget to very serious scrutiny,’ Thune said. ‘This is not going to be pleasant. These are going to be painful decisions.’”
  • Georgia GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss indicated a news release from yesterday that, “Today, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appointed me to serve as the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. It has been an honor to serve as the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry for the past six years, and I look forward to working closely with new committee leadership to champion agricultural issues of interest to my home state.
    “Agriculture has been a top priority since I was first elected to Congress in 1994, and I have served on the House and Senate Agriculture Committees continuously ever since. Through work on multiple farm bills and other important agricultural legislation, I have been committed to supporting farmers, enhancing rural communities, and ensuring a safe, abundant and affordable food, fiber and fuel supply. Moving forward in the 112th Congress, I vow to continue to be a strong voice for Georgia and all of Southern agriculture.”
  • Andy Eubank of Hoosier Ag Today (HAT) interviewed Ag. Sec. Tom Vilsack on Wednesday and as part of their wide-ranging discussion, Sec. Vilsack addressed issues regarding federal regulations, the Environmental Protection Agency and agriculture.
    Meanwhile, a House Ag. Comm. release from yesterday noted that, “Rep. Frank Lucas (R- OK) and Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-TX) sent a letter to the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Gary Gensler, yesterday requesting that the agency voluntarily adhere to President Obama’s executive order.

    “The executive order calls for certain federal agencies and departments to review regulations to ensure they do not ‘stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive.’ However, the CFTC would be exempt because it is an independent agency. CFTC is tasked with implementing an unprecedented number of new regulations required under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which has the potential to impact every segment of the economy. Reps. Lucas and Conaway point out that it is imperative the CFTC consider unintended consequences.

    “‘The regulations from Dodd-Frank will have a far-reaching impact on our economy and if the administration excludes them from review then President Obama’s initiative is not credible. The scope and magnitude of Dodd-Frank calls for a careful and methodical rulemaking process to prevent harming an already struggling economy. It is my hope that Chairman Gensler will voluntarily comply with the executive order,’ said Rep. Frank D. Lucas, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.”