Bottom-Line Assessments on Top-Level Farm Bill Issues

November 12, 2013 07:06 AM

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

How a farm bill veteran sizes up key conference issues

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

I asked a long-time farm bill observer and insider to respond to specific farm bill conference issues. Here are the responses:

-- Any updated thoughts on the farm bill?
"Not much. They are still working on trying to resolve differences. No news is good news."

-- Do you think farm bill is done THIS calendar year?
"I am not as confident as some others are, but I am hopeful. If not this year, early next. BUT, I think it boils down to whether Democrats want a bill and that means they need to accept some reasonable reforms and cuts to food stamps. [Senate Ag Committee Chairman Debbie] Stabenow (D-Mich.) drawing a line at $4 billion is not credible. I also don't think it is, as one Member put it, cruel and unusual punishment to ask people to work if they get food stamps, especially able-bodied adults with no kids."

-- What will be the solution to food stamp issues.... or will be the result in terms of funding level and policy?
"Sen. Stabenow has been publicly drawing a hard line at $4 billion. If she sticks with that, I don't see how the bill gets done. And I think Democrats get blamed in key districts and states. Who can oppose able-bodied adults with no kids working?"

-- What will the safety net program(s) likely be? A choice between Revenue and Price, or will there be an all-in decisions?
"I think they want all-in."

-- Dairy policy: supply management or not?
"Some compromise on this, but neither full Senate nor Goodlatte."

-- Food aid: Any reform?
"No if by reform you mean use US tax dollars to buy foreign food."

-- Crop insurance linkage to cross compliance. Yes or no?
"Seems odds may have increased due to support of some farm groups."

-- Country-of-origin-labeling (COOL): repeal, or what do you think on this topic?
"COOL reform to comply with WTO."

-- Cotton: Will there be two years of direct payment transition? One year? Or none?
"Yes, payments. Don't know number of years, but enough to see them thru until they all get STAX" (safety net program).

-- Permanent legislation... as is, or the House plan?
"Farm group opposition probably means no to the House plan to use whatever is new Title I language."

-- Energy: Will Stabenow get her mandatory funding for these programs?
"Yes, at some level is my guess."


NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.






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