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RSS By: Chip Flory, Pro Farmer

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House and Senate get ready to markup farm bills

May 03, 2013

Pro Farmer Extra

- From the Editors of Pro Farmer newsletter -

May 3, 2013

House farm bill gets ready for a mid-May markup


Lawmakers will be targeting a 10-year savings of $38 billion when the House Ag Committee begins its work on May 15, according to Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.). He says House GOP leadership has not yet committed to a time for floor action, but they have indicated another extension is not an option.


Lucas also says the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which accounts for about 80% of farm bill spending, would be cut by $20 billion in the new bill, with the rest of the savings coming primarily out of the commodity and conservation titles. Updated scoring of last year’s House version put SNAP savings at $11.7 billion, $4.3 billion below the 2012 scoring.


Lucas also says the new bill would make larger cuts in conservation spending and he hinted the Conservation Reserve Program may be reduced by more than the 25-million-acre cap proposed last year.
The commodity title will be left largely intact and target prices in the Price Loss Coverage program will be “very close” to the levels in last year’s bill, according to Lucas.


But the committee action will just be a preview. The real action in the new farm bill debate will come during floor action, especially in the House, where amendments are expected to deal with crop insurance, dairy policy and the U.S. sugar program. And that’s not considering efforts to rectify the wide budget savings differences expected between the two versions — $23 billion in the Senate versus $38 billion in the House.


Sen. Cochran’s presence felt on ag panel


Unlike last year, this year’s Senate version will include a producer option for target/reference prices. However, target price levels in many cases are expected to be below the House-proposed levels of 2012. Some sources signal rice and peanuts could be the “favored commodities” relative to target price levels in the Senate. That would signal the significance of new ranking member Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.).


Egg-laying roadblock?


Senate farm bill markup may begin as soon as this week (mid-month is most likely) and Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) might add another hurdle to getting a farm bill completed. If she puts the so-called Egg Bill in the coming farm bill draft, she’ll get plenty of resistance instead of support from farm groups. This measure, which some have dubbed “Hilton for Hens,” would require national standards of housing hens.


Follow Pro Farmer Editor Chip Flory on Twitter: @ChipFlory

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