Pro Farmer Extra
- From the Editors of Pro Farmer newsletter -
January 24, 2014
Today's perspective is provided by Pro Farmer Washington Consultant Jim Wiesemeyer and Pro Farmer Associate Editor Meghan Pedersen:
Issues could push farm bill to February
The goal is to hold a farm bill vote on the House floor ahead of House members departing Jan. 29 for party policy conferences. But it now looks likely the vote will slip to the first week of February. The holdup is language on Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) and Grain, Inspection, Packers & Stockyards (GIPSA) authority on poultry.
Agreement on pay cap technical issues and the definition of “actively engaged” are expected to fall into place before a conference report is filed. Meanwhile, dairy policy could again be reopened, though lawmakers’ are growing impatient with that debate.
Farm bill principals reportedly reached an agreement on dairy policy for the new farm bill before they left for a week-long recess Jan. 20. But now an effort is apparently being made to reopen the compromise by House Ag Committee Ranking Democrat Collin Peterson (Minn.) and the National Milk Producers Federation. They are reportedly seeking more onerous language to avoid milk overproduction since voluntary supply management was dropped from the package.Some Democrats are reportedly pushing for new surplus commodity purchase authority for dairy and other commodities.
Sources signal Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) has given the renewed push some daylight, but House Ag Committee and Conference Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and others are upset that the compromise is being revisited with the farm bill finish line in sight.
Stabenow is also reportedly digging in on other lingering issues dealing with the crop subsidy payment cap and actively engaged issues. If so, there may be some hard votes ahead for conferees. Stabenow wants to avoid any votes on specific issues by the 41 conference members, but some sources indicate Lucas and/or House Republican leaders may (should) call conferees back to vote on remaining issues.
House leaders’ goal has been to have the bill put on the House floor this week for a vote Jan. 28, which means the language would have to be filed the preceding weekend. Specifically, House leaders want the measure voted on before the House chamber has to be cleared for the security sweep preceding the State of the Union message from President Barack Obama on Jan. 28.
Pro Farmer Washington Consultant Jim Wiesemeyer says, “The good news is developments of this nature are fairly typical at the end of a long, arduous legislative process, pressuring lawmakers to move things ahead. But some also believe Stabenow and Peterson are overreaching.”
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