Farm Bill Information
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.
UPDATE: 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.
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
Horticulture and Organic Agriculture
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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