PurplePoll: Obama leading but independents moving to Romney, and CO, VA, FL, OH Purple Predictors

The April 2012 PurplePoll shows Mitt Romney getting a second look from voters, with President Obama maintaining a small but consistent lead across the Purple electorate.

Senior CME Executive Discusses DSRO Audits with CMC Members

On yesterday’s policy call, Anne Bagan, a CME Group Managing Director, discussed the Designated Self-Regulatory Organization (DSRO) audit process of Futures Commission Merchants (FCMs). Among the topics discussed were audit frequency, surprise spot checks, ongoing financial surveillance activities, etc. The differences in the roles of a DSRO as compared with that of an SRO in regards to surveillance and auditing was also covered.

Senate Ag Committee Releases Language of 2012 Farm Bill Draft

Senate Ag Committee releases language of 2012 Farm Bill draft | AgriPulse.

Senator Stabenow Provides Summary of the 2012 Farm Bill Draft

Senator Stabenow provides summary of the 2012 Farm Bill draft to be released today.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., provided a summary of the committee’s 2012 Farm Bill draft to be released later today. The full Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a mark-up of the 2012 Farm Bill on Wednesday, April 25 at 9:00 a.m.

Partisan Divide Could Halt 2013 Appropriations Process

A bit unexpectedly, fiscal 2013 appropriations bills were moving quickly through committees this week.  Despite lawmakers attempt to ready bills it is unclear whether House and Senate leadership will be able to move them, as there is a significant difference in overall spending levels.  The Senate appropriators are expected to move 12 bills totaling $1.047 trillion later today.  Their counterparts in the House, however, will move a package that is $1.028 trillion.   Bridging this gap is a heavy lift under normal circumstances, but the White House increased pressure yesterday when Jeffrey Zients, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) told House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) in a letter that “until the House of Representatives indicates that it will abide by last summer’s agreement, the president will not be able to sign any appropriations bills.”  The Senate version is in line with the agreement referenced in Zients letter.

House Ag Committee Signals Unusual Partisan Split

In a partisan voice vote, the House Ag Committee approved a proposal to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by more than $33 billion over the next 10 years on Wednesday.  The vote came on the heels of a very contentious debate.  Ultimately it lacks legislative meaning as it was part of a budget proposal the Senate will not consider; however, it is an indicator of the partisan rancor present in a traditionally bipartisan committee.  It is certain to flare up again when the Committee takes up the 2012 Farm Bill in earnest and must address SNAP – the program which provide food stamps and free school lunches.

Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) called the cuts “credible reforms that reduce waste and abuse and close” loopholes.  Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN), countered by comparing the proposal to taking “a meat axe” to the program to avoid the defense cuts mandated in last year’s debt-limit law.  The savings would come from both reducing benefits and increasing the requirements for qualification.

CRS Report:  The Role of Local Food Systems in US Farm Policy

Sugar Imports to Rise

USDA will raise the low-duty quota on imported raw sugar by 420,000 tons and may increase the quota again in June.  In a Federal Register Notice, USDA specifies that the tariff rate quota (TRQ) will rise from 1.23 million to 1.65 million tons.  To explain the multiple-step analysis, USDA pointed to “significant uncertainties about FY 2012 Mexican imports, domestic refined and raw sugar demand, the early sugar beet crop, and other markets factors” as reasons it was not prudent for USDA to increase the import supplies further at this time.

The Sweetener Users Association, representing food and candy manufacturers, estimated as much as 961,000 tons of additional sugar would be needed to push ending stocks into the range of 13.5 percent to 15.5 percent, the range traditionally considered adequate.