January 28, 2014
After two years of negotiating, Farm bill conferees announced a sweeping, bipartisan five-year farm bill late Monday. The measure costs an estimated $1.1 trillion and is filled with trade-offs and an estimated savings of nearly $23 billion.
The bulk of savings comes from cutting $19 billion from farm programs, including an end to direct payments to farmers — money that often went to farmers who don’t actually farm. An additional $6 billion is saved by merging 23 separate conservation programs into 13, which is a move supported by conservation groups nationwide. There are $8 billion in cuts tied to the food stamp program which will come largely from increasing the state heating assistance requirement.
The House Rules Committee met late Monday night to fast-track the bill to the House Floor. The bill will come up on Wednesday, before House Republicans depart for their annual policy retreat. The House will consider the conference report well in advance of the House’s Three Day Rule, which requires introduced legislation pend at least three calendar days before it is considered and voted upon by the House. The rule is designed to give Members of Congress and staff time to read and analyze bills.
Already the American Meat Institute and the National Meat Association, who represent cattle, hog and poultry producers, have announced opposition to the conference report and will whip against the bill.
If the House adopts the report, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said his chamber could take up the legislation sometime during the current three-week work period.
The Office of Federal Relations is tracking this issue and will continue to provide updates.