There have been many slow weeks in Washington, D.C., this year, but this was not one of them as several important ag-related issues have arisen before Congress in the last three days.

Both the House and Senate floors have voted on multiple pieces of legislation vital to the agriculture sector, and during this time, NSP has fought tirelessly to hold onto those issues important to agriculture and the sorghum industry alike.

A short-lived victory took place on June 14 as a measure backed by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) aimed at repealing the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) failed in the Senate with a 40-59 cloture vote.

Unfortunately, when this same proposal was offered June 16 by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Sen. Coburn on a stand-alone vote, the measure passed 73-27.

While NSP is disappointed with results of this vote, the industry is hopeful this piece of legislation will not be approved by the House, but continued debate and negotiations are ahead with an uncertain outcome.           

Two other ethanol related votes took place Juen 16 — one on each chamber floor. Both proposed amendments called for the barring of federal government funds to be used for blender pumps.

The amendment offered by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) failed with a 41-59 vote. In the opposite chamber, Rep. Jeff Flake’s (R-Ariz.) amendment to the FY12 House Agriculture Appropriation bill passed for a second time with a vote of 283-128.

The House chamber began consideration June 14 of the FY12 ag appropriations bill. After a long stream of debate on the unlimited number of amendments that were allowed to be offered, the bill passed 217-203.

Some potentially harmful amendments for agriculture were brought to the table, but representatives in agriculture’s corner of the ring worked vigorously to defeat them.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) offered an amendment to impose a $125,000 pay limit on the farm bill, which failed 154-262. Rep. Flake offered an amendment to lower the adjusted gross income for producers that failed 186-228.

Rep. Flake also put forth an amendment to defund the Market Access Program (MAP), which is designed to encourage development, maintenance, and expansion of commercial agricultural export markets. This amendment also failed with a vote of 101-314.

Many representatives stepped up to the plate and went to bat for agriculture this week. NSP thanks these representatives and their staff along with our members for their hard work and effort on behalf of U.S. farm policy.

We did not win all the votes, and the current support for agriculture and renewable energy becomes more challenging each day. Even so, NSP will continue to work for you.