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Farm Bill Information

October 5, 2016
Arkansas Farm Bureau and American Farm Bureau need your feedback! Help the Farm Bill Working Group plan for the 2018 Farm Bill debate by participating in a special online survey here. Respondents who complete the survey by October 19, 2016, and leave their email address will be entered to win an Orca cooler or one of five Orca cups.
April 4, 2014
USDA has announced via a press statement the progress on implementing the 2014 Farm Bill’s 450 provisions.

TITLE I – Commodity Programs
Supplemental Agriculture Disaster Assistance:  USDA will publish a final rule to implement the disaster assistance provisions and begin sign-up by April 15, 2014.

County and Regional Loan Rates:  USDA issued a press release on March 28, 2014 announcing county and regional loan rates.

Extension of Programs:  On March 28, 2014, FSA published Federal Register notices for the extension of the following programs:  (1) Marketing Assistance Loans; (2) Milk Income Loss Contract; (3) Dairy Indemnity Payment Program; (4) Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program; and (5) Sugar.

Dairy Forward Pricing Program:  Final rule published on March 21, 2014, that re-established the Dairy Forward Pricing Program.

TITLE II – Conservation
Conservation Programs:  Applications are currently being accepted for the Conservation Stewardship Program and Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

Market Access Program (MAP):  During the week of April 7, 2014, the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) will announce 2014 MAP funding.

Foreign Market Development Cooperator Program (FMD):  During the week of April 7, 2014, FAS will announce 2014 FMD funding.

TITLE IV – Nutrition Programs
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Payments:  On March 5, 2014, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) released an Implementation Memorandum to States on the elimination of standard utility allowances in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for LIHEAP payments less than $20.

SNAP-related Provisions: On March 21, 2014, FNS released an Implementation Memorandum to States communicating major SNAP related provisions of the Act.

Community Food Projects:  On February 27, 2014, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) released a Notice of Funding Availability for the Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program, with $5 million available.

Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP):  On March 10, 2014, FNS released an Implementation Memorandum to States on phasing out the eligibility of women, infants and children.

Multiagency Taskforce on Commodity Programs:  On March 14, 2014, the Under Secretary of Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services issued a memorandum to solicit names for a multiagency task force to provide coordination and direction for commodity programs.   

TITLE V – Credit
Farm Loan Programs/Direct Farm Ownership:  On February 7, 2014, FSA implemented changes in the interest rate on Direct Farm Ownership loans that are made in conjunction with other lenders.

Modifications to Farm Loan Programs:  On March 24, 2014, FSA issued a news release in announcing changes to Farm Loan Programs as part of the Farm Bill.

Microloans:  On March 26, 2014, FSA issued an agency directive implementing non-discretionary microloan provisions.

TITLE VI – Rural Development
Value Added Producer Grants (VAPG):  On March 25, 2014, Rural Development published a notice in the Federal Register extending the application period for Fiscal Year 2013 and 2014 funding for VAPG, with up to $25.5 million available for these grants.

Definition of Rural Housing:   On March 13, 2014, Rural Development issued guidance to State Directors, field staff and stakeholders on implementing new eligibility requirements regarding the definition of rural housing.

TITLE VII – Research and Related Matters
Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative:  On March 17, 2014, NIFA released a Notice of Funding Availability for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative, with $20 million available in FY 2014.

Specialty Crop Research Initiative:  On March 17, 2014, NIFA released a Notice of Funding Availability for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, with $76.8 million available in FY 2014.

Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR):  Letters soliciting nominations to the FFAR Board were mailed to interested parties and a Federal Register notice was submitted for publication on March 31, 2014.
Budget Submission and Funding: On March 10, 2014, REE submitted its first Budget Submission and Funding report to Congress.

TITLE VIII – Forestry
Insect and Disease Infestation:  On March 19, 2014, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell sent a letter to all state governors notifying them of the opportunity to submit requests for designating their priority insect and disease areas for treatment.

TITLE X – Horticulture
Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention: On April 3, 2014, USDA announced $48.1 million in funding for 383 projects to help prevent the introduction or spread of plan pests and diseases.

National Clean Plant Network: The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced a Request for Applications (RFA) on March 24, 2014 for the National Clean Plant Network, with $5 million available.

Bulk Shipments of Apples to Canada:  On April 3, 2014, AMS will publish a final rule in the Federal Register amending regulations under the Export Apple Act to allow bulk containers to be shipped to Canada without U.S. inspection.

TITLE XI – Crop Insurance
Premium Amounts for Catastrophic Risk Protection (CAT):  During the first week of April, the Risk Management Agency (RMA) will issue documents to revise the premium rates charged for CAT coverage to be based on the average historical “loss ratio” plus a reasonable reserve.

TITLE XII – Miscellaneous
Catfish Inspection:  On March 14, 2014, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) submitted the first status report to Congress on the development of the final rule establishing a catfish inspection program.

February 11, 2014
The Senate voted on Tuesday (Feb. 4) to pass The Agricultural Act of 2014. The vote tally was 68-32. Both Senator Pryor and Boozman voted yes.  President Obama signed the bill February 7 at a ceremony at the University of Michigan in East Lansing.

The Congressional Research Service has prepared a side by side bill comparison summary of 2008 farm bill, Senate passed bill, House passed bill and Conference Agreement. It is linked here.

Additionally the Department of Agricultural Economics & Agribusiness at the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture has prepared a brief summary of the new commodity programs.

January 31, 2014
The House voted on Wednesday to pass The Agricultural Act of 2014. The final vote tally was 251-166 with three of Arkansas’ four Congressmen voting yes. Reps. Griffin, Crawford and Womack all voted to pass the bill.

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) has filed cloture on the bill setting up a cloture vote for Monday, February 3. The Senate will then vote Tuesday morning on final passage. Senators Boozeman and Pryor are both expected to support the bill.

Conference Report of The Agricultural Act of 2014
The conference is the legislation voted on by Conference

Manager's Statement
The Manager's Statement gives a brief description of the House and Senate proposed provisions and then what the final version is.

January 29, 2014
After three years of work, Congress appears to be on the path to final passage for a farm bill rewrite. Most members of the Conference Committee signed off on the conference report yesterday. The Conference Report is 949 pages. Four members of the 41 person committee did not sign off on the report and say they will oppose the bill.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) appeared before the House Rules Committee last night.  He indicated that the House is likely to vote today on making the rule in order to consider the conference report on the House floor on Wednesday morning. Sen. Reid (D- NV) has said he anticipates that the Senate will vote in the next three weeks. Chairwoman Stabenow (D-MI) expects the farm bill will come up for a vote very soon in the Senate but offered no specific date. Lucas and Stabenow both indicate that they feel the President will sign the bill. Speaker Boehner (R-OH) has signaled his support for the bill.

The $500 billion dollar bill cuts $9 billion dollars from SNAP. The bill eliminates the Direct Payment program which has been a part of the farm bill for about 20 years.

New Risk Management Programs
Farmers will have two new risk management tools - the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) counter cyclical program or the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) revenue program (with a county or farm level option).  

Payment yields for PLC can be updated to 90 percent of the recent 5-year average yields.  Base acres can be reallocated to better reflect crops planted more recently, but overall base acres on a farm cannot be increased. There is a one time option to update yields. Target prices are those passed by the House – wheat at $5.50/bushel, corn at $3.70/bushel, rice at $14.00/cwt, soybeans at $8.40/bushel, and peanuts at $535./ton and are available on 85 percent of base acres.  

With the PLC option, producers also have the choice to purchase a new crop insurance product (beginning in 2015) called Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO), which is a county level program that allows up to 86 percent of revenue coverage with a 65 percent premium subsidy.

A shallow loss program called ARC is established.  Payments are made on base acres when actual crop revenue falls to a level between 76 and 86 percent of historical revenue.  Maximum payments under this program will be 10 percent of the historical revenue.

Cotton Provisions
Cotton will transition away from the commodity programs toward the STAX program. Cotton producers will potentially have two years of transition payments until the full implementation of STAX. The section provides that transition payments will be made with respect to the 2014 crop year to upland cotton producers with cotton base in the 2013 crop year, and with respect to the 2015 crop year to upland cotton producers with base in the 2013 crop year and who are located in counties where STAX is not available for that crop year.

Marketing Loans
Marketing loans are the same as current law for all commodities except cotton which is set at an average of the prior two years and not more than 52 cents per pound or less than 45 cents per pound.

Payment Limits
There is one cap of $125,000 under which all PLC, ARC, MLGs, and LDPs must fit. That can be doubled with spouse limit up to $250,000.

AGI Limits
The section replaces the two income limitation tests (farm and non-farm incomes) with a single
$900,000 adjusted gross income limitation (over three years) for certain commodity programs as well as conservation programs. The section applies the new limit to payments under the Farm Risk
Management Election, marketing loan gains or loan deficiency payments, payments from
Supplemental Agricultural Disaster Assistance Programs, payments from conservation programs, the Agriculture Management Assistance program authorized in the Federal Crop Insurance Act, and payments from the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. The section requires that payment limits in effect on the day before the enactment of this Act apply to the 2103 crop, fiscal or program year. (Section 1604)

Conservation Compliance
Conservation compliance is linked to the crop insurance program, but there is no payment limit or means testing of the crop insurance program.

Actively Engaged
The rule on “actively engaged” will be developed by the Secretary of Agriculture which will allow time for comment and change. The conference report stipulates that the new regulation may, where appropriate, include limits on the number of individuals who may be considered actively engaged when a significant contribution of active personal management is the basis used by an individual or entity to meet actively engaged requirements under the law. The proposed regulation is required to take into account the size, nature, and management requirements of farming operations, the changing nature of active personal management due to advancement of farming operations, and the degree to which the impact of the regulation would adversely impact the long-term viability of the farm. The regulation does not apply to individuals or entities comprised solely of family members. It will include a plan of compliance and prohibits the imposition of any additional paperwork burdens associated with the new regulation on those not subject to the new regulation. Finally, the substitute provision clarifies that the provision is not to be construed as authorizing broader regulations, and requires that the regulation promulgated apply beginning with the 2015 crop year.

Dairy Program
Chairman Lucas quipped yesterday that if he expired suddenly, that a glass of milk should be on his tombstone because no doubt it would have been the dairy battle that killed him. National Milk Producers Federation issued a statement saying that they believe the revised program will help address the volatility in farmers’ milk prices, as well as feed costs, and provide appropriate signals to help address supply and demand.

The compromise will limit how much future milk production growth can be insured. This measure creates a disincentive to produce excess milk. The revised bill also establishes a system for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)to  purchase consumer-packaged dairy products during low-margin periods, which will stimulate demand. The producers group makes no secret that they would have preferred the originally proposed program but feel that they can  work with the compromise and that they feel the “program doesn’t discriminate against farms of differing sizes, or preferentially treat those in differing regions.”

Each dairy producer will have a base assigned to them at the highest level of their production in 2011, 2012 and 2013.  Indemnities will be paid on any production up to base.  If a producer increases their marketings, only 25 percent of the indemnity will be paid above the base amount.  For example, if a producer’s base was 3 million pounds and he produced 3.2 million pounds in 2014, he would receive indemnities on the 3 million pounds and 25 percent of the indemnities on the .2 million pounds.  In addition, there is a transition period whereby the premiums are significantly reduced for the first two years for those producing less than 4 million pounds of milk.  Also a new “Section 32 type” program is implemented and USDA will be required to purchase excess product if the margin falls below $4.00 for two consecutive months.  Importantly, the funding for dairy when we began this process was only $300 million and now the baseline will be between $1.2 billion and $1.3 billion.

The farm bill reauthorizes the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) catfish inspection program and creates a crop insurance program for catfish. The Catfish Farmers of America estimates that under the FDA's current inspection program, 98 percent of all imported seafood is being served directly to American families with no inspection whatsoever.

SPCC and King Amendment
The farm bill conference report does not include the SPCC exemption proposed by the House bill. The bill also does not include the King Amendment that would prohibit states from forcing other states to comply with their animal welfare rules when selling products.

COOL, GIPSA and other Livestock Provisions
The conference report leaves the COOL provisions in the farm bill but it requires that an analysis should be conducted on USDA’s final version of the rule. The House had proposed to repeal the GIPSA provisions adopted in the 2008 farm bill but the conference report leaves them intact. Farm Bureau supports COOL as long as it is WTO compliant and we supported many of the provisions in the GIPSA reform, specifically for poultry producers.  

Yesterday, the packers, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the National Pork Producers Council, the National Turkey Federation and the National Chicken Council announced they were asking members to oppose the farm bill as it did not repeal Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) or the reforms made to help producers through the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Act (GIPSA) provisions.  

Livestock producers will benefit by provisions in the Farm Bill by more than $7 billion -- including funding in the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Livestock Forage Program, EQIP and export programs.  In addition, there are numerous research provisions, other conservation programs, and a change to the vet programs that are included.

Heritage Action and Club for Growth have both said they will oppose the bill.  

Not all members of Arkansas Congressional Delegation have announced their official positions on the bill yet. Senator Boozeman and Rep. Crawford as members of the conference committee both signed the conference report. Sen. Pryor has said he will vote for the bill.

January 17, 2014

With Congress leaving for a week long recess, the farm bill vote will likely slip into February. Firm framework for the farm bill has yet to be released and until that happens; it is hard to know how the final vote will go.

Insiders say that a final number for food support program cuts will about $9 billion over the next 10 years. That’s double the amount of the cuts proposed by the Senate ($4 billion) and about a fourth of the cuts proposed by the House ($40 billion). It will take a bi-partisan vote in both chambers to advance a bill with that number.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) has put forth a dairy compromise that might gain the blessing of Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN). Peterson has been a proponent of the proposed Dairy Stabilization Program which has been heartedly rejected by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). As time grows short for passing and implementing a new farm bill, it appears that a compromise could be forthcoming, but whatever has been proposed does not yet have the public approval of Boehner, Peterson or national dairy groups. It's a situation where no one will get 100 percent of what they want.

Dairy isn’t the only hurdle left to clear. Payment limits for crop subsidies remains a question. Both the House and Senate version included payment limits for crop support programs and AGI limits. What the final number might be, is still undisclosed. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is circulating a letter to other members of Congress to support provisions in the House and Senate bills to lower payment limits and to change the definition of “actively engaged”.  

While it is unlikely to hold up a final farm bill, Brazilian groups are expressing doubts that the new legislation fixes trade problems related to cotton.

As the bill nears completion, deals are being proposed on a number of issues. Patience is wearing thin in the negotiations; many legislators have expressed open frustration with the long delayed process.

October 26, 2013
House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders announced that the first public meeting for the 2013 Farm Bill conference committee will be held on Wednesday, October 30 at 1:00 p.m. ET in room 1100 of the Longworth House Office Building (the Ways and Means Committee Room). The agenda for the meeting of conferees will include opening statements and discussion of H.R. 2642, The Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013.

After a long battle over the farm bill, there is some hope that Congress is working to show progress and cooperation on some issues.

The House’s appointments to the conference committee were announced on Saturday morning, October 12, 2014. Rep Rick Crawford (R) representing Arkansas’ 1st Congressional District will serve on the elite committee. He joins fellow Arkansan Sen. John Boozman. A difficult task awaits the conference committee. Drafting a bill that satisfies the House, the Senate and the White House has never been more challenging.

Arkansas is well represented with two members on the forty-one person committee. Texas and California each have four members, Michigan and Minnesota have three.

House Committee on Agriculture Republican conferees:
Rep. Frank D. Lucas (R-OK), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee
Rep. Steve King (R-IA)
Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX)
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL)
Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-TX)
Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA)
Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA)
Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR)
Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL)
Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD)
Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA)
Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL)
Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL)
Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA
Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA)
Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI)
Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX)

The following Democratic House Members will serve on the conference:
Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH)
Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) – Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee
Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC)
Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA)
Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN)
Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR)
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA)
Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA)
Rep. Gloria Negrete (D-CA)
Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX)
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY)
Rep. Sandy Levin (D-MI)

The Senate will be represented the following seven Democrats and five Republicans:  Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI); Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT);  Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA);  Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT); Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH); Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO); Senate Agriculture ranking member Thad Cochran (R-MS); Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS.);  Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA); Sen. John Boozman (R-AR); and Sen. John Hoeven (R- ND)

October 3, 2013
Tuesday about 4:00 p.m. the farm bill cleared yet another procedural hurdle, the Senate disagreed with the House farm bill, requested a conference with the House, reappointed its conferees and sent the bill back to the House.
The conferees are the same as those named earlier.  They include the following seven Democrats and five Republicans:  Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.); Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.);  Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa);  Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.); Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio); Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.); Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.); Senate Agriculture ranking member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.); Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.);  Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.); Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.); and Sen. John Hoeven (R- N. D.)

The House now will need to move to go to conference and name the House conferees so formal conference negotiations can begin.  Currently, we don’t know when the House will take this action, but expect it could be in the next few days. We feel its unlikely Speaker Beohner will name Conferees during the Government Shutdown discussion.   

(2) Tuesday, the Food and Ag Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) released a document comparing the commodity titles of the House and Senate farm bills.  The document can be accessed at this link.
Highlights include (a) The House and Senate bills provide different projected levels of support to producers of particular commodities. For example, the House bill provides more support than the Senate bill to rice, barley and peanuts, while the Senate bill provides more support than the House bill to corn and soybeans; (b) Under each bill, average net farm income would decline slightly relative to what would happen under a simple continuation of current farm programs; (c) the U.S. is unlikely to violate WTO limits under either bill; and (d) If there is a Doha WTO Agreement, preliminary analysis suggests that the proposed House and Senate bills could frequently result in support to particular commodities in excess of the proposed commodity-specific caps. The proposed caps on overall amber box spending and a measure referred to as the level of “overall trade-distorting support” could also be exceeded under some circumstances.

Update September 23, 2013
The House has passed its version of the nutrition title, H.R. 3102, which would cut the food stamp program by $39 billion over 10 year, by a vote of 217 to 210.

This is the next procedural step in passing a new farm bill. The House is now expected to appoint conferees as early as next week for the House-Senate Farm Bill conference committee. This will then allow for formal conference negotiations to begin between the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to start developing a final version of the Farm Bill. The 2008 farm bill will officially expire on September 30, 2013. It is all but impossible that a new bill will be in place by that date.

Many procedural hurdles are ahead. There is no word on if Congress will adopt a short term extension or let the bill expire with the goal that a new bill will be in place shortly. We expect a conference committee to begin work in October.

The House nutrition title barely passed and it passed on a strictly partisan vote. Only Republicans voted for the bill and 15 Republicans actually voted against the bill. The conference committee will have a very difficult task ahead creating a bill that will pass both the House and Senate. The President has also threatened to veto the bill if it closely resembles the House bill. Farm Bills have been vetoed before but Congress has always mustered the votes to override. We could see some very unique procedural moves before the deal is done.

The Senate conferees have already been appointed, and are below.
Democrats: Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Senators Patrick Leahy
(D-Vt.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Amy Klobuchar (DMinn.)
and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)

Republicans: Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Senators Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Saxby
Chambliss (R-Ga.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), and John Hoeven (R-N.D.)

UPDATE: July 11, 2013
The failure of the House farm bill in late June, left House leaders scrabbling for a path forward on the legislation. With many Representatives refusing to budge on their positions on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), some began to seriously float the idea of splitting the farm bill.  The two new bills would be divided into a the nutrition title and everything else.  Farm support programs and conservation would be the “everything else” category. Despite opposition by Farm Bureau and more than 500 other agriculture groups, the House Rules Committee approved the split late last night, 9-4. We believe there will be three votes today.  The first will be a motion by the Democrats to recommit the bill to the House Agriculture Committee.  That is likely to be defeated on a straight party-line vote.  The second will be on approval of the closed rule (no amendments) for consideration of the revised farm bill and the last will be a vote on final passage.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) support splitting the farm bill that almost passed the House.  The idea is to also repeal the so called permanent law of 1938 and 1949 replacing that with the 2013 Farm Bill commodity title.  Long time watchers of farm policy know that the permanent law of ’38 and ’49 has been a useful political tool through the years, keeping Congress on track to complete past farm bills in a timely manner to avoid reverting to the old law. Farm Bureau opposes repealing the permanent law.

House leadership has been whipping the split for several days and must be confident that the bill will pass hence its appearence before the Rules committee. The nutrition portion of the bill might be considered later – or never considered at all and the farm portion only (aka “everything else” portion) would be sent a conference committee. Chairman Lucas has indicated that they will work hard to present a nutrition title for the House’s consideration.  A bill coming out of the conference committee is very unlikely to not include a nutrition title. This raises some interesting scenarios for the vote on the conference bill. What will the House support be for a bill with a nutrition title when it had to be stripped out to pass previously? Would the Senate embrace deeper cuts to nutrition to gain House passage? How much of this is political chicken and will a conference bill pass both chambers with little fanfare? Those are questions for another day so let’s not borrow trouble.

Nutrition and farm support were joined in 1977 because nutrition added the votes of more urban legislators while farm support added the votes of members of Congress representing rural districts. Many rural districts have a significant portion of their constituents served by nutrition programs so SNAP isn’t a straightforward urban vs. rural issue. A more simple reason for joining the issues together is they both directly impact food supply and demand.

The entire Democratic caucus has decided to oppose the split. Farm organizations are united in their desire to keep the bill intact. Heritage Action for America and Americans for Prosperity support splitting the farm bill in two so “real reform” can take place in both farm programs and SNAP. Club for Growth calls the split “an excellent decision” but calls for the House to oppose it because they suspect the recently proposed split is a “rope-a-dope” way to get the bill to conference. They offer support for the split only if it leads to their reforms. All three organizations call for deeper cuts to farm programs and nutrition. It appears to be a divide and conquer plan, separate long-time allies then dismantle programs for both.

Early this morning the White House issued a statement that they hadn’t had enough time to review the 608 page bill released late last night. At this point the Administration strongly opposes the bill and condemns the split and possible abandonment of SNAP by the House. The statement goes on to say, “If the President were presented with H.R. 2642, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.” Of course the bill that goes to the President will not be H.R. 2642 but could it enough like it that a Presidential veto could be looming.

H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2013 failed on the House floor on Thursday June 20, by a 195-234 vote. Congressmen Crawford, Griffin and Womack all voted yes on the bill. Representative Cotton of Arkansas’ 4th district voted against the bill.

"I am surprised and very disappointed," said Randy Veach, president of the Arkansas Farm Bureau. "We had all of agriculture supporting this proposal, and we believed we were going to get it passed.

"To have this vote fail the way it did leaves us a difficult situation. The American farmer is left without much of a safety net, or without the ability to plan, long-term, for their farms. The House started working on this bill back in early 2012. It has taken us 18 months to even get it to a vote in the House, and to have it go does makes me question whether we will see another proposal from the House this year. It leaves so many questions unanswered."

"I’m obviously disappointed, but the reforms in H.R. 1947- $40 billion in deficit reduction, elimination of direct payments and the first reforms to SNAP since 1996 - are so important that we must continue to pursue them.  We are assessing all of our options, but I have no doubt that we will finish our work in the near future and provide the certainty that our farmers, ranchers, and rural constituents need," said Rep. Frank Lucas, Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture.

House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin C. Peterson expressed similar regrets. Peterson also lamented late amendments concerning SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) that caused many Democrats to vote no on the bill.

House agriculture leaders are meeting now to discuss options for moving forward. That possibility is complicated by many issues. The Speaker is very unlikely to allow additional floor time on the bill if it is doomed to fail again. A compromise is being negotiated and it is possible that a bill could come to the floor before the August recess if an agreement can be reached.

The House bill's failure in June can be linked directly to SNAP changes. Some Congressmen feel the cuts weren't deep enough and others felt they were too deep. Republicans add a couple of amendments late in the process that were a poison pill for urban Democrats. However it is important to note that the bill did not fail on a party line vote. Members from both parties voted against the bill. House Speaker John Boehner said he supported the legislation.

There is no official word yet on how leadership will move forward and what compromise might be enough to get the bill passed and to a conference committee. It will take changed votes from 20 plus members of Congress. Usually the House and Senate would each pass their own bill and a conference committee of key House and Senate members would iron out the differences between a Senate and House bill. Then the two chambers would vote again. Right now things are on hold pending decisions and talks in the House.

Could they/Would they extend the 2008 farm bill again? That is possible but at this point it might be considered a last resort. The current extension that agriculture is working under came at the last minute in December after the 2008 bill had actually expired on September 30 of last year. This is the second attempt at renewal and Congress has been attempting to rewrite this farm bill for almost 3 years.  An extension of course is possible but imperfect because not all programs get extended including disaster assistance, certain livestock provisions and dairy.

Can we sever SNAP and pass an agriculture policy only bill? Very questionable. Many votes are yeses based only on the inclusion of SNAP provisions. For legislators from more urban areas, there support is based almost entirely on food assistance for their poorest constituents. Right or wrong, many members of Congress from non-agriculture districts see no reason to support farm support programs.  

Can the House pass the Senate bill and move forward that way? Yes but that is very unlikely.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Monday June 24, that the Senate would not support another extension. Political pressure will mount on the House. The Senate has recently passed a bi-partisan Farm Bill and should pass an immigration bill before the July 4 recess. Movement on such significant legislation could result in more public scrutiny of the House. Congressman Lucas pleaded with House members before the final vote that a failure would make the House look "dysfunctional."

UPDATE June 10, 2013
Both Arkansas senators, Mark Pryor and John Boozman, voted Monday evening for passage of a new five-year Farm Bill. The measure passed 66-27.

The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 (S 954), is the Senate’s idea for what should replace the existing farm bill set to expire Sept. 30. The legislation includes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as well as programs to protect environmentally sensitive land, international food aid and other projects to help rural communities.

The House of Representatives is expected to take up the issue as early next week. The Senate version includes an expansion of crop insurance programs, utilized by Midwestern farmers more than those in the Mid-South, where irrigation is a hedge against yield loss. However, the Senate bill also includes programs for Southern rice and peanut farmers.

Last year’s Senate proposal did not include adequate protection for many Southern commodities, with Pryor, Boozman and Arkansas Farm Bureau opposing the proposal on those grounds. That support was added this year after the agriculture committee gained a new top Republican, Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, along with heavy lobbying by Arkansas Farm Bureau and a concerted education effort by Arkansas senators. Those changes led to their support for this version of the Senate bill.

The U.S. House version seeks cuts of almost $40 billion, with $20.5 billion coming out of the food stamp program. The Senate bill reduces spending by more than $23 billion. The Senate version projects about $955 billion in spending over 10 years, and the House version projects about $940 billion over the period.

The Senate and House bills are far apart on food stamp support, though other titles are similar and Arkansas Farm Bureau is optimistic that a compromise bill will be drafted and approved by both chambers.

: In May 2013, the Senate Agriculture Committee passed their version of the farm bill. The Senate began floor debate before the Memorial Day recess. Upon return from the recess, the Senate resumed their work on the bill and amendments. More than 200 amendments (224 at last count) have been offered for consideration. The Senate will not vote on all these amendments and are currently in the process of refining and narrowing the list of amendments that will be considered. There is a current list of amendments below. Amendments by Sens. Pryor and Boozman are highlighted in yellow.

Proposed Amendments to Senate Bill

The Senate could finish their work on the farm bill by June 14. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is considering a cloture vote which would limit debate.

The House Agriculture Committee has also passed their version of the farm bill but no floor time has been scheduled.

The American Farm Bureau Federation has created a chart showing a comparison of the current farm bill, the pending Senate bill and the pending House bill.

Side-by-Side comparison

The Current Law
On June 18, 2008 Congress overrode President Bush's veto on H.R. 6124, the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, ensuring that all parts of the Farm Bill are enacted into law. Previously, Congress had passed H.R. 2419 over the President's veto, containing 14 of 15 Farm Bill titles.


2008 Farm Bill

2008 Farm Bill Summary 

2008 Farm Bill Total Spending Chart 

Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) Program Summary
By Sara Wyant
Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Farm Bill Impact on Arkansas Representative Farms
Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

 Title-by-title fact sheets

  1. Commodity 

  2. Conservation 

  3. Trade 

  4. Nutrition 

  5. Credit 

  6. Rural Development 

  7. Research 

  8. Forestry 

  9. Energy 

  10. Horticulture and Organic Agriculture 

  11. Livestock 

  12. Crop Insurance 

  13. Commodity Futures 

  14. Miscellaneous 



Presentations from Farm Bureau Farm Bill Teleconference

Eric J. Wailes
L.C. Carter Professor
Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness
University of Arkansas

ACRE Versus Traditional Support Programs 

Mary Kay Thatcher
Director, Public Policy
American Farm Bureau Federation

Farm Bill Overview 


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