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House Names Its Farm Bill Conferees

14:54PM Oct 12, 2013

The House of Representatives leaders—namely Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.,)-- named their Farm Bill Conference Committee members who will try to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions.

The House conferees include 17 Republicans and 12 Democrats, including 21 from the House Agriculture committee, reports Agri-Pulse

The Senate had already named its conferees on August 1. The biggest difference to be resolved will be cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps). The Senate approved $4 billion in cuts while the House approved $40 billion.

For dairy, the Senate approved a voluntary dairy margin insurance program that would require dairy farmers who sign up to curtail production when margins shrink to certain levels. The House passed a margin insurance program without the market stabilization program. Each version passed their respective Houses by more than 2:1 margins, so reconciliation could prove difficulte.

"We commend the leadership of the House of Representatives for taking the next crucial step towards completing a new farm bill, and creating a new and better safety net for dairy farmers," says Jim Mulhern, Chief Operating Officer of the National Milk Producers Federation.

"NMPF will be working in the coming days to remind both the Senate and House conferees of the importance of a balanced and cost-effective dairy program. The Senate’s bipartisan Dairy Security Act is the only program designed to both help farmers when they need it most, while also limiting taxpayers’ liability through its market stabilization mechanism. Without the market stabilization program, farmers will continue to suffer prolonged periods of poor margins, while taxpayers will subsidize artificially-low milk prices."

But proponents of the House version note that the Congressional budget office has scored it as costing less than the Dairy Security Act, which charges farmers less for the margin insurance.