The U.S. House of Representatives could be voting on a new farm bill as soon as Jan. 29, and the probability of that happening is high, said Mary Kay Thatcher, senior director of Congressional Relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation.
"It could go to the House Rules Committee tonight, and if that's the case we could have it on the House floor on Wednesday morning," Thatcher said. If that happens, the Senate could be voting on the new bill by the end of this week or early next week.
In an interview with "AgriTalk" host Mike Adams, Thatcher outlined what she expects to see in the new farm bill.
"I think it's a very good bill," she said. "I think it treats farmers very equitably. It looks at the regional issues that have to be dealt with, it puts money in the right places, and it's full of reforms, be it on food stamps, elimination of direct payments, a better conservation title. I think this will go down as being a very good farm bill."
Listen to the full interview:
1. Direct payments. Direct payments were eliminated from the new farm bill, but a shallow loss-type program will exists. "We definitely know that we are going to have a shallow loss type program," Thatcher said. "The percentage will be a little lower than some had discussed, about 76-86% of production. We will go with base acres instead of harvested acres on those programs, and higher levels of target prices."
2. Crop insurance. Crop insurance will not have payment limits, but instead will be tied to conservation compliance. There will also be more money invested in crop insurance.
3. Dairy. Dairy producers will have the Livestock Gross Margin Insurance program, but there will not be supply management connected with it. Instead, a base-type program will be set up for dairy producers.
4. Payment limits. A deal was struck on payment limits. They will be implemented, but, "I suspect they will be in the $850,000 to $900,000 level. I'm not real sure how they have resolved the 'actively engaged' language," Thatcher said.
Thatcher said she thinks if the farm bill passes the House, it will likely pass the Senate.
"Every senator has agriculture in his or her state, so every senator cares about this," she said. "That is not the case in the House, and it's just a bigger uphill battle."