House Votes to Formally Agree to Conference With Senate on Farm Bill

October 11, 2013 10:59 AM

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Saturday votes to include nonbinding votes to reduce crop insurance premium subsidies for high-earning farmers; vote on US sugar program

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

The House today formally agreed to go to conference on the farm bill. The motion to go to conference with the Senate was approved by voice vote following a debate over the House bill's 5-percent cut to food stamp spending and a party-line, 223-189 vote on a key procedural measure. 


Democrats are proposing to instruct conferees to support the permanent law provisions in the Senate bill (S 954) and to reauthorize the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for five years. SNAP would expire in 2016 under the House bill (HR 2642), an action that would effectively sever nutrition assistance from farm programs going forward.


The House Rules Committee today approved a rule for advancing the farm bill (HR 2642) to conference. The rule, approved by voice vote, would allow debate on a measure by House Budget Committee Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) urging conferees to reduce crop insurance premium subsidies for high-earning farmers. The rule also would permit a vote on a measure by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) targeting the sugar program.


Votes on the resolutions are expected to take place Saturday.


House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) told the Rules panel that the conferees will have to resolve some "challenging differences." He said that reducing premium subsidies as Ryan proposes could raise insurance rates, if more well off producers reduce their coverage. "The question comes down to who should be allowed to participate in crop insurance and who shouldn’t," Lucas said.


Meanwhile, Rules member Michael Burgess (R-Texas) said he voted for the Pitts sugar proposal when it was offered as an amendment to the farm bill but noted it had been defeated.


Note: The formal naming of the House conferees will not likely come until Saturday, Oct. 12.




Floor action: The Rules Committee has recommended a rule that provides for a motion to go to conference on the farm bill as well as for the consideration of two separate resolutions directing House conferees on farm bill provisions. Each of the separate resolutions would be considered under a closed rule that prohibits amendments, with 60 minutes of debate. The Rules recommendation will be managed by Chairman Sessions (R-Texas), or his designee. The Democratic manager will be Rep. Slaughter (D-N.Y.), or her designee.

Background: The Rules Committee approved its rules resolution on Friday, Oct. 11, by voice vote.

The Senate passed its version of the farm bill (S 954) on June 10 by a 66-27 vote.

Summary: This resolution provides for the House to go to conference with the Senate on the farm bill (HR 2642), allowing the chairman of the Agriculture Committee to insist upon the House's amendment to the Senate amendment to HR 2642.

It also provides for the consideration of two non-binding Sense of the House resolutions regarding farm bill provisions (each of which would be considered under a closed rule).

The first resolution (HRes 378), expresses the Sense of the House that House conferees should propose to repeal provisions of the 2008 farm bill regarding the Administration of Tariff Rate Quotas, which the resolution says would "restore the Secretary of Agriculture’s authority to manage supplies of sugar throughout the marketing year to meet domestic demand at reasonable prices."

Neither the House nor Senate-passed farm bills would modify the federal sugar support program. Under current law, the Agriculture Department manages a price guarantee program for the processors and producers of domestic sugarcane and sugar beets by limiting the amount of sugar supplied for food use in the U.S. market. One of the tools that the department uses to keep domestic market prices above guaranteed levels is to impose tariff-rate quotas on imported sugar. However, the department is required to establish the tariff-rate quotas for sugar at the beginning of the quota year and cannot adjust that quota before April 1, unless there is a sugar shortage caused by war or some natural disaster.

The second resolution (HRes 379) expresses the Sense of the House that House conferees should agree to Senate provisions that would limit the federal subsidy that farmers with adjusted gross incomes above $750,000 receive for federal crop insurance and require the Agriculture Department to study the impact of such an income limitation on the crop insurance program — but not agree to language that would allow the Agriculture secretary to delay the effective date of those provisions.

The Senate farm bill establishes an adjusted gross income limit on crop insurance subsidies for farmers with an average adjusted gross income greater than $750,000; however, the subsidy reduction can take effect in the 2014 crop year only after the Agriculture Department determines that the change does not significantly increase premiums for farmers at lower income levels, does not reduce crop insurance coverage availability and does not increase the total cost of the crop insurance program.


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






Back to news


Spell Check

No comments have been posted to this News Article

Corn College TV Education Series


Get nearly 8 hours of educational video with Farm Journal's top agronomists. Produced in the field and neatly organized by topic, from spring prep to post-harvest. Order now!


Market Data provided by
Brought to you by Beyer