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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Agricultural Disaster Assistance

Agricultural Disaster Assistance

Date: April 28, 2010
Creator: Shields, Dennis A. & Chite, Ralph M.
Description: This report has two sections. The first provides an overview of the current USDA disaster assistance programs: federal crop insurance, NAP payments, emergency disaster loans, the new Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program (SURE), and four other smaller disaster programs authorized in the 2008 farm bill. The second section reviews the recent history of emergency supplemental farm disaster assistance.
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Attorneys' Fees in the State Tobacco Litigation Cases

Attorneys' Fees in the State Tobacco Litigation Cases

Date: September 23, 1997
Creator: Contrubis, John
Description: In the past few years, many states have filed complaints against the tobacco industry in state court to recover Medicaid costs paid by the states to treat their citizens for tobacco related illnesses. The states are also attempting to recover other damages, such as punitive damages, against the tobacco industry. For various reasons, the states have hired private attorneys to assist the state Attorneys General in prosecuting these cases. In most cases, the retention of private counsel has included a fee agreement specifying the amount of compensation that these attorneys will receive for their services. These agreements are not uniform among the states, but most tend to provide some form of contingency fee arrangement. Some of these states have developed a sliding scale contingency fee schedule which varies with the amount of time spent on the litigation and whether a trial has begun. This report briefly summarizes the different fee agreements that the states have with private counsel.
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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: October 28, 2010
Creator: Bracmort, Kelsi & Gorte, Ross W.
Description: This report discusses the use of biomass as an energy feedstock, which 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 (e.g., switchgrass or prairie perennials), crop residues, wood waste and byproducts, and animal manure. This report discusses legislation regarding biomass, the evolving definition of biomass, and the positions of supporters and detractors of biomass as an alternative energy source.
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Climate Change: The Role of the U.S. Agriculture Sector and Congressional Action

Climate Change: The Role of the U.S. Agriculture Sector and Congressional Action

Date: June 19, 2009
Creator: Johnson, Renée
Description: The debate in Congress over whether and how to address possible future climate change is intensifying. Often, the role of the U.S. agriculture sector is invoked in this debate. Agriculture is a source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which many scientists agree are contributing to observed climate change. Congress is considering a range of climate change policy options, including GHG emission reduction programs that would either mandate or authorize a cap-and-trade program to reduce GHG emissions. This report discusses this issue in detail, i.e., how the agricultural industry affects GHG emissions and efforts currently underway to combat these negative effects, but it does not address the potential effects of global climate change on U.S. agricultural production.
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Energy Provisions of the Farm Bill: Comparison of the New Law with Previous Law and House and Senate Bills

Energy Provisions of the Farm Bill: Comparison of the New Law with Previous Law and House and Senate Bills

Date: January 22, 2003
Creator: Yacobucci, Brent D
Description: This report provides a side-by-side comparison of the energy provisions of the new law with previously existing law, as well as the versions engrossed by the House and Senate in the 107th Congress. While the energy provisions in the House version were spread throughout the bill, the Senate version consolidated most of its energy provisions into Title IX - Energy. Both bills provided for the use of reserve land for renewable energy production. The House version also allowed for loans to farmers in response to high energy prices, while the Senate version did not.
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Federal Farm Promotion ("Check-off") Programs

Federal Farm Promotion ("Check-off") Programs

Date: October 20, 2008
Creator: Becker, Geoffrey S.
Description: The U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 affirmed the constitutionality of the so-called beef check-off program, one of the 18 generic promotion programs for agricultural products that are now active nationally. Supporters view check-offs as economically beneficial self-help activities that need minimal government involvement or taxpayer funding. Producers, handlers, and/or importers are required to pay an assessment, usually deducted from revenue at time of sale - thus the name check-off. However, some farmers contend they are being "taxed" for advertising and related activities they would not underwrite voluntarily. The Supreme Court's decision to uphold the beef check-off is considered significant for the future of the other programs, although the Court left open the possibility of additional challenges.
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The Federal Food Safety System: A Primer

The Federal Food Safety System: A Primer

Date: December 15, 2010
Creator: Johnson, Renée
Description: The combined efforts of the food industry and the regulatory agencies often are credited with making the U.S. food supply among the safest in the world. Nonetheless, many food-related health issues persist. At issue is whether the current U.S. regulatory system has the resources and structural organization to protect consumers from these dangers. Also at issue is whether the federal food safety laws themselves, first enacted in the early 1900s, have kept pace with the significant changes that have occurred in the food production, processing, and marketing sectors since then.
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The Federal Food Safety System: A Primer

The Federal Food Safety System: A Primer

Date: January 11, 2011
Creator: Johnson, Renée
Description: Report concerning food safety, the resources required to ensure food safety, and whether federal food safety laws themselves, first enacted in the early 1900s, have kept pace with the significant changes that have occurred in the food production, processing, and marketing sectors since then.
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The Federal Food Safety System: A Primer

The Federal Food Safety System: A Primer

Date: September 22, 2010
Creator: Johnson, Renée
Description: The combined efforts of the food industry and the regulatory agencies often are credited with making the U.S. food supply among the safest in the world. Nonetheless, many food-related health issues persist. At issue is whether the current U.S. regulatory system has the resources and structural organization to protect consumers from these dangers. Also at issue is whether the federal food safety laws themselves, first enacted in the early 1900s, have kept pace with the significant changes that have occurred in the food production, processing, and marketing sectors since then.
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Green Payments in U.S. and European Union Agricultural Policy

Green Payments in U.S. and European Union Agricultural Policy

Date: November 22, 2005
Creator: Hanrahan, Charles E. & Zinn, Jeffrey A.
Description: This report compares current United States and European Union (EU) efforts in the area of green payments. Green payments refer to "payments made to agricultural producers as compensation for environmental benefits that accrue at levels beyond what producers might otherwise achieve under existing market and regulatory conditions" (summary). The report gives an overview of policies, programs, financing, and various other aspects of comparison related to the topic.
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