June 17, 2013

House Proceeds on Farm Bill

By Sarah Castro

This week, the House will consider its version of the Farm Bill (HR 1947) to authorize USDA programs for five years. The controversial measure is expected to be considered for the bulk of the week.

Where the Senate passed a bipartisan Farm Bill earlier this year by 66–27, with 18 Republicans voting in favor, the House measure — and the House generally being more polarized — is facing a much more controversial bill. Provisions of contention include:

  • the bill’s new dairy program that would provide insurance to milk producers and includes a supply management plan to reduce price-depressing dairy surpluses,
  • a limit of $40,000 per person per year in premium subsidies or an elimination of premium subsidies to farmers with an adjusted gross income of more than $250,000,
  • $20.5 billion in reductions over 10 years to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program, and
  • changes to the crop insurance program.

Like the Senate bill, the House measure would end $5 billion a year in direct payments made to farmers and landowners based on the past crop production history of qualifying acres. Part of the savings from ending direct payments would be used to create a hybrid of insurance-like plans and reference, or target, prices to help farmers protect against price drops. How this program is changed is controversial to both environmental and fiscal conservative groups.

No farm bill would mean that there are no changes to the SNAP and other programs that conservatives believe should be changed. Thus Republican leadership are encouraging Members to vote for the reauthorization despite any flaws with the bill.

As previously discussed, the House reauthorization includes most of higher education’s many requests reauthorization requests for the NIFA. It House bill also provides mandatory funds for three programs administered by NIFA. Although major floor amendments to the Research and Extension Title (Title VII) of the bill are not expected at this time, it is unlikely there will be no amendment to the Research Title.

UW’s College of the Environment receives USDA and NIFA funds, and the Office of Federal Relations is tracking the progress of the Farm Bill closely.

 

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