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House Farm Bill Will LIkely Finish Today After Late-Night Progress

00:01AM Jun 20, 2013

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Package of amendments approved makes final passage possible today

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

House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) said the House would finish work on its farm bill (HR 1947) this afternoon due to late-Wednesday approval of a package of 39 amendments by voice vote. The House debated numerous other amendments until midnight but delayed roll call votes until today.

Food stamp cut repeal defeated. The House defeated, 188-234, Democratic member efforts to restore the proposed $20.5 billion in cuts for SNAP/food stamps.

In a major blow to the National Corn Growers Association and the American Soybean Association, Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) withdrew his amendment pushed by the corn and soybean group lobbyists that would have slashed target prices in the underlying House farm bill. Gibbs withdrew his amendment after receiving an assurance from Lucas that he would work to make the program market-oriented. Corn and soybean groups tried to put the best spin on the development (link to statement), but congressional sources and others, including some corn and soybean growers, were happy about the development.

Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) withdrew an amendment that would prohibit farmers who sell corn for ethanol from receiving federal commodity support on that part of their harvest. He argued that nearly 40 percent of corn production goes to ethanol and that farmers who provide corn for the fuel should not receive the same subsidies as those producing corn for food or livestock feed. Lucas said the farm bill "is not really the environment" for the amendment.

Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) withdrew an amendment that would have linked conservation compliance with crop insurance. Thompson said the conservation compliance provision is already in the Senate bill and that a loss or close vote in the House could have weakened the case for keeping it in a conference committee.

An effort to reform the food aid program was defeated in a close vote, 203-220. Both parties were divided on the proposal. The issue split Republicans 105-126, and it split Democrats 98-94.

Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) proposed an amendment that would only allow farm subsidies to producers with an average gross income of less than $250,000, and limit those subsidies to $50,000 per person. Kind said those changes would help prevent million-dollar payments to farmers, and save $11 billion. But Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) said that would be a "slap in the face" to farmers — he and other opponents said cutting farm payments would penalize U.S. producers compared to their overseas competitors. Lucas and ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) closed out the debate by urging members to oppose the change.


Continued debate and votes today will include efforts to delete dairy supply management language in the underlying bill, and an effort to alter the sugar program.

Note: All of the farm bill amendments, along with the updated status of each measure, has been posted at this House webpage: Link.


The following is the outcome of some of the House farm bill votes thus far:

–- Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), et al, restoring the $20.5 billion cuts in SNAP by offsetting the Farm Risk Management Election Program and the Supplemental Coverage Option. Failed 188-234.

— Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), setting the target price for all crops at 55 percent of a five-year rolling average, and setting acreage available for price support at 85 percent of farmers' base acres. Withdrawn.

— Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), codifying an EPA rule that exempts mud and rock runoff from road use from environmental regulations. Passed in voice vote.

— Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), directing the Secretary of Agriculture to study the climate impacts of the Price Loss Coverage program. Failed in voice vote.

— William Enyart (D-Ill.), establishing a National Drought Council and a National Drought Policy Action Plan to streamline the federal response to drought. Passed in voice vote.

— Tom Graves (R-Ga.), prohibiting farm payments to corn growers who sell their crop for ethanol production. Withdrawn.

— Ben Lujan (D-N.M.), allowing small-scale Hispanic irrigators to be eligible for EQIP funding. Passed in voice vote.

— Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), making the ownership eligibility requirement for the Wetland Reserve Program equal to other conservation programs. Withdrawn.

— Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), specifying that the government should give priority consideration for using Emergency Watershed Protection funding for areas affected by floods and wildfires. Passed in voice vote.

— Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), requiring a conservation compliance plan to be filed with USDA for all crops in wetlands and annually tilled crops on highly erodible lands. Withdrawn.

— Dina Titus (D-Nev.), continuing USDA's Hunger-Free Communities grant program, aimed at addressing hunger in communities. Failed in voice vote.

— Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), capping spending on the Farm Risk Management Election program at 110 percent of the CBO-predicted levels of spending for the first five years. Passed 276-156. House Ag Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) argued that the cap would be unworkable and undermine the programs. It would likely be deleted in a forthcoming conference committee.

— Paul Broun (R-Ga.), repealing permanent law from the Agriculture Act of 1949 that pertains to dairy support. Prevents the currently suspended law from becoming reactivated should Congress not reauthorize programs under the Department of Agriculture. Failed 112-309.

— Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), requiring 20 percent of the acreage in the Conservation Reserve Program to be set aside for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program and the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program. Failed 17-242.

— Blumenauer, reforming the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to increase access for farmers and end payments to projects that do not show significant conservation benefits. Failed 157-266.

— Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio.), improving coordination among various federal agencies on the decline of bees in the United States and promoting the viability of bees. Passed 273-149.

–- Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), reforming US international food aid to allow for not more than 45 percent of authorized funds to be used for assistance other than US agricultural commodities. Failed, 203-220.

— Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), repeals the Market Access Program for marketing US agricultural commodities. Failed 98-322.

–- Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), seeks to ensure USDA certificates of origin are accepted by any country that has entered into a free trade agreement with the United States. Approved in voice vote.

–- Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), amends Sec. 4016 by specifying that at least one such pilot program shall be conducted in a large urban area that administers its own SNAP program and otherwise complies with the pilot program requirements. Agreed in voice vote.

–- Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), allows states to conduct drug testing on SNAP applicants as a condition for receiving benefits. Agreed in voice vote.

The amendments adopted as part of the en bloc package included measures proposed by:


Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), to ban people convicted of rape, murder and sexual assault from receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.

– Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) to require USDA to provide technical assistance to US Customs and Border Protection to identify produce claiming to be made in the United States when in fact it is not.

– Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.), to increase the cap for wildlife habitat funding within the Environmental Quality Incentives Program from 5 percent to 7.5 percent.

– Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), to require USDA to study the effect of SNAP cuts on demand at emergency feeding organizations.

– Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), to cap mitigation of wetlands at a one-for-one acreage basis.

– Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), to reauthorize grants for antibiotic resistance research.

– Austin Scott (R-Ga.), to require USDA to consult with the Labor Department on farm labor disputes.

--Mark Takano (D-Calif.), to require USDA to report to Congress on the economic implications for consumers, fishermen and aquaculturists of fraud and mislabeling in wild and farmed seafood.

– Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa), to reinstate feasibility studies under the Rural Energy for America Program.


Before adjourning just before midnight, the House approved six other amendments by voice vote, from:


Dan Benishek (R-Mich.), requiring an analysis of FDA's Food Safety Modernization Act before final regulations are enforced.


Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), ensuring USDA considers regulations in accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act to ease the impact on small businesses.


Rob Wittman (R-Va.), adding performance-based measures to the farm bill.


Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), modifying the exemption levels of EPA's rules for above-ground oil tanks.


Crawford (R-Ark.), prohibiting the EPA from disclosing the private information of farmers and ranchers.


Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), sunsetting all discretionary programs in the bill after the expiration of the five-year authorization period.



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