Three Bills Filed to Deal With Farm Bill Extension, Dairy Policy

December 30, 2012 02:03 AM
 

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

House gearing up for possible farm bill extension, but dairy policy murky


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


On Saturday evening on the House Clerk's website, the three following unnumbered bills were posted dealing with various extensions of the farm bill or with dairy policy alone -- One bill would extend the expired 2008 farm bill, which expired Sept. 30, for one year, but include controversial new dairy policy. The second would provide for a farm-bill extension through January and a third would just extend dairy programs through January. Details:

 

H.R. __ To provide a one-year extension of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 and amendments made by that Act, with certain modifications and exceptions, to provide supplemental agricultural disaster assistance, to establish dairy producer margin protection and dairy market stabilization programs, and for other purposes [PDF]
Added 12/29/2012 at 09:48 PM

H.R. __ To provide a temporary extension of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 and amendments made by that Act, with certain modifications and exceptions, and for other purposes [PDF]
Added 12/29/2012 at 09:48 PM

H.R. __ To continue to suspend the application of permanent price support authority regarding milk, to extend the operation of certain dairy programs, and for other purposes [PDF]
Added 12/29/2012 at 09:48 PM

The first draft bill totals 78 pages and would be a full extension of current programs through the end of this fiscal year Sept, 30. New disaster assistance is included as well as a major revamping of the current milk program to help producers better manage production levels and insure their margins at a time of high feed costs.

The second 11-page draft bill is not as comprehensive and more short-term.

The third draft measure is just two pages and deals with concerns that permanent legislation would be invoked for dairy policy if there is no other action taken.

 

A fourth possibility is contingent on whether the Senate can reach a deal Sunday on extending some of the expiring tax cuts. If so, a 33-page draft extension has been prepared to be included in that deal. It also runs through Sept. 30, but does not include the new dairy policy language.

 

"Clearly, it is no longer possible to enact a five-year farm bill in this Congress," House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) said in a statement. "Given this reality, the responsible thing to do — and the course of action I have long encouraged if a five-year bill was not possible — is to extend the 2008 legislation for one year. This provides certainty to our producers and critical disaster assistance to those affected by record drought conditions. The legislation posted is the result of discussions with Ranking Member Peterson and my colleagues in the Senate," Lucas said. "It is not perfect — no compromise ever is — but it is my sincere hope that it will pass the House and Senate and be signed by the President by January 1."

 

Senate Ag Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) issued the following statment regarding a short-term farm bill extension:  

"While the Senate passed a bipartisan five-year Farm Bill in June that cut subsidies and reduced the deficit, the lack of action by the House Republican leadership has put us in a situation where we risk serious damage to our economy unless we pass a temporary extension. If a new Farm Bill is not passed in the next few days, Agriculture Committee leaders in both chambers and both parties have developed a responsible short-term Farm Bill extension that not only stops milk prices from spiking, but also prevents eventual damage to our entire agriculture economy. It is critical that we pass a five-year Farm Bill that gives farmers and ranchers the certainty they need to plan for the future. If a new Farm Bill doesn’t pass this Congress we’ll soon hold another mark-up and just keep working until one is enacted next year."

 


Comments: The first draft bill is the likely favored approach by House Ag panel leaders. While the controversial new dairy policy language (a one-year program in the one-year extension draft bill) would be included, it will very likely take USDA some time to issue rules, regulations and take time to implement due to its complexity. But it does save money from the baseline. Also, Democratic member contacts say House Ag ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) insisted on including the dairy gross margin/supply management language to get his and likely other farm-state Democratic member votes. The final verdict on any farm bill extension language will of course depend on GOP leadership, but the fact that the dairy language saves money and a new farm bill would debated and voted on in 2013, to take effect in 2014, could lead to House GOP leadership support because the controversial dairy policy changes would not likely be implemented before a new farm bill is again debated and voted on in 2013.


Meanwhile, there would be a marginal reduction in direct payments for 2013 crops under the one-year extension draft bill – that is, direct payments would likely be made on 82.5 percent of their base acres. The resulting savings (a 3 percent reduction in direct payments) would help pay for extending lapsed livestock disaster programs, and some of the other 37 programs that have expired -- and thus a need for $1.4 billion in savings over ten years. Senate Ag Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) reportedly insisted on this approach, including funding for some lapsed programs and providing disaster funding for cherry tree farmers.


The Congressional Budget Office late Sunday released cost estimates of a one-year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill, and new dairy policy. Link: http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/43828-OneYearAgProgramExtension.pdf


The key, veteran congressional sources inform, is what happens in the Senate. Any Senate bipartisan fiscal plan should be focused on to see what type of farm bill extension is included, and whether or not it simply extends existing dairy policy or contains the new controversial dairy policy language. Any Senate package would then go to the House, which could pass it on a majority vote, or amend it with a vote to follow.

 

Bottom line: Veteran congressional sources say the end zone depends on what if any bipartisan fiscal cliff agreement comes out of talks between the two top Senate leaders and their staffs and if one is announced to expect a relatively clean farm bill extension, with funding for some lapsed disaster programs, but not new dairy policy. Such an agreement would then go from the Senate to the House for a simple majority vote.


 

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


 


 

 

 

 

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