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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Previewing the Next Farm Bill

Previewing the Next Farm Bill

Date: February 15, 2012
Creator: Chite, Ralph M.
Description: Congress periodically establishes agricultural and food policy in an omnibus farm bill. The 112th Congress faces reauthorization of the current five-year farm bill because many of its provisions expire in 2012. The 2008 farm bill contained 15 titles covering farm commodity support, horticulture, livestock, conservation, nutrition assistance, international food aid, trade, agricultural research, farm credit, rural development, bioenergy, and forestry, among others. Leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees anticipate having a new farm bill completed before the end of this session. If the current farm bill expires without a new authorization or a temporary extension, it automatically would be replaced with permanent statutes for farm commodity support, which are not fully compatible with current national economic objectives, global trading rules, and federal budgetary or regulatory policies.
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Biotechnology in Animal Agriculture: Status and Current Issues

Biotechnology in Animal Agriculture: Status and Current Issues

Date: February 11, 2009
Creator: Becker, Geoffrey S.
Description: This report describes several scientifically emerging animal biotechnologies that are raising a variety of questions concerning risks to humans, animals, and the environment, as well as ethical concerns. The report examines applications of the technologies and discusses major issues that may arise.
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Biomass: Comparison of Definitions in Legislation Through the 111th Congress

Biomass: Comparison of Definitions in Legislation Through the 111th Congress

Date: March 7, 2012
Creator: Bracmort, Kelsi
Description: The use of biomass as an energy feedstock is emerging as a potentially viable alternative to address U.S. energy security concerns, foreign oil dependence, rural economic development, and diminishing sources of conventional energy. Biomass (organic matter that can be converted into energy) may include food crops, crops for energy, crop residues, wood waste and byproducts, and animal manure. Most legislation involving biomass has focused on encouraging the production of liquid fuels from corn. For over 30 years, the term biomass has been a part of legislation enacted by Congress for various programs, indicating some interest by the general public and policymakers in expanding its use. To aid understanding of why U.S. consumers, utility groups, refinery managers, and others have not fully adopted biomass as an energy resource, this report investigates the characterization of biomass in legislation.
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The Dominican Republic-Central America- United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA DR): Developments in Trade and Investment

The Dominican Republic-Central America- United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA DR): Developments in Trade and Investment

Date: April 23, 2012
Creator: Hornbeck, J. F.
Description: On August 5, 2004, the United States entered into the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). This permanent, comprehensive, and reciprocal trade agreement eliminates tariff and non-tariff barriers to two-way trade, building on unilateral trade preferences begun under the 1983 Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI). CAFTA-DR reinforces the idea that growth in trade correlates closely with policies that promote economic stability, private investment in production, public investment in education, infrastructure, logistics, and good governance in general.
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Farm Safety Net Proposals for the 2012 Farm Bill

Farm Safety Net Proposals for the 2012 Farm Bill

Date: October 6, 2011
Creator: Shields, Dennis A.
Description: This report discusses three proposals-one by the National Cotton Council, one by Representative Neugebauer, and another by a private crop insurance company-focus on modifications to crop insurance programs. The National Farmers Union proposes to replace existing farm programs with a combination of farmer-owned-reserves, increased loan rates, and set asides. A proposed new dairy program-the Dairy Security Act-would provide a voluntary margin insurance program and market stabilization activities in place of current dairy programs. Finally, the proposed REFRESH Act (Senator Lugar) would eliminate most commodity programs (including the sugar program), and incorporate ARRM, the Dairy Security Act, and expanded whole-farm revenue insurance in their place.
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The Dominican Republic-Central America- United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTADR): Developments in Trade and Investment

The Dominican Republic-Central America- United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTADR): Developments in Trade and Investment

Date: April 9, 2012
Creator: Hornbeck, J. F.
Description: On August 5, 2004, the United States entered into the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). This permanent, comprehensive, and reciprocal trade agreement eliminates tariff and non-tariff barriers to two-way trade, building on unilateral trade preferences begun under the 1983 Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI). CAFTA-DR reinforces the idea that growth in trade correlates closely with policies that promote economic stability, private investment in production, public investment in education, infrastructure, logistics, and good governance in general.
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Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP): Status and Issues

Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP): Status and Issues

Date: April 19, 2011
Creator: Stubbs, Megan
Description: The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-246, 2008 farm bill) created the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). This report discusses the two main purposes of BCAP, which are (1) to support the establishment and production of eligible crops for conversion to bioenergy in selected areas, and (2) to assist agricultural and forest land owners and operators with collection, harvest, storage, and transportation of eligible material for use in a biomass conversion facility.
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Japan's 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami: Food and Agriculture Implications

Japan's 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami: Food and Agriculture Implications

Date: May 18, 2011
Creator: Johnson, Renée.
Description: The March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami in Japan caused widespread devastation that affected many of the country's agricultural and fishery areas. The nuclear crisis that followed at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant, and the subsequent detection of radioactive contamination of food produced near the disabled facility, further raised fears about the safety of Japan's food production systems and its future food exports. Most reports acknowledge that Japan's current production and supply shortages, along with rising food safety concerns and possible longer-term radiation threats to its food production, could limit Japan's food exports while possibly increasing its need for food imports in the future. It is still not clear what effect, if any, Japan's current food supply and demand situation will have on world farm commodity markets and food prices.
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Generalized System of Preferences: Agricultural Imports

Generalized System of Preferences: Agricultural Imports

Date: January 3, 2011
Creator: Johnson, Renée
Description: The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) provides duty-free tariff treatment for certain products from designated developing countries. Some in Congress have continued to call for changes to the program that could limit GSP benefits to certain countries, among other changes. Opinion within the U.S. agriculture industry is mixed, reflecting both support for and opposition to the current program. In the past few years, Congress has extended GSP through a series of short-term extensions. However, the 111th Congress did not extend the GSP in 2010, and it was set to expire December 31, 2010. The expiration of the GSP will likely become a legislative issues in the 112th Congress.
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The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF): Budget and Operations for FY2011

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF): Budget and Operations for FY2011

Date: January 6, 2011
Creator: Krouse, William J.
Description: This report provides an overview of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) budget and operations. This report chronicles congressional action on the FY2011 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS), and Related Agencies Appropriations bills, as well as any FY2010 supplemental appropriations bills, that provide funding for ATF.
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