D.C. Watch: Farm bill in Senate’s hands

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The House-passed farm bill was sent on to the Senate last week, but it is not clear how soon a House-Senate Conference Committee will start work.  House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., has said the House will vote on a separate nutrition bill quickly, but so far no bill has been intro­duced.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said “conversations with the Senate can begin immediately” but also said he “cannot in good faith press GOP leaders to appoint conferees until he works to craft a bill cutting food stamp funding.”


The shape of a possible stand-alone food stamp bill is still being worked out, but some House members want to cut $135 billion over 10 years from the program, a figure that was included in the House-passed budget earlier this year.


The Senate-passed version of the farm bill cuts only $4 billion from the program over 10 years.


The current one-year extension of the farm bill expires on September 30, and Congress will be in session for only about 15 days between now and then.


There are other significant differences between the bill approved by the House and the Senate bill with regard to commodity titles.


For example, the target prices in the House bill are significantly higher than those in the Senate bill and the Senate bill includes a provision that would reduce milk production when prices get low.


The milk supply control provision was included in the bill approved by the House Agriculture Committee but changed by amendment when the bill reached the floor.


 The Senate bill creates a linkage between conservation compli­ance and crop insurance subsidies and farmers with high adjusted gross incomes get a smaller crop insurance subsidy. These provisions are not in the House bill. And the House bill repeals the permanent law that has been a motivating factor for developing new farm bills in the past. The House bill would make the 2013 commodities program underlying permanent legislation.


Of course there are other differences between the two bills, but these are the most notable ones.

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