Farm bill: Now what?
If the House cannot pass a bill, or if a second House bill cannot be reconciled in a conference committee with the Senate, one alternative is another one year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill. However, to the Republicans, that may be as distasteful as opting for no action and letting 1949 Permanent Agricultural Law take effect with its high parity prices for corn, wheat, milk and other commodities that are guaranteed to farmers. It was the spectre of parity pricing for milk that spurred the Republican House to adopt a "fiscal cliff" version of agriculture policy and extend the 2008 Farm Bill through September 30. 2013.
Who takes the lead?
Will the House leadership take the lead on resurrecting something for consideration, or is that a function that Agricultural leadership should assume. Many farm groups have worked hard the past several years in developing budget-cutting policies that still provide some degree of a farm safety net. Their effort will have to continue because the trend of the amendments to the failed Farm Bill was to severely reduce spending for farm safety net programs, and limit the benefits of crop insurance programs.
An amendment came within 5 cross-over votes of passing that would have limited crop insurance premium subsidies to farm families with an adjusted gross income exceeding $250,000. Another amendment was passed that would place a $50,000 limit per farm on crop insurance premium subsidies. Such efforts to raise the premium costs for crop insurance will hit hard at many Corn Belt operations if they are included in any legislation that could become law. The $50,000 subsidy cap would be 1,250 acres of a crop with a $25/acre crop insurance premium. And the $250,000 AGI limit would hit many families with two incomes, in addition to farm income.
Absent in this Farm Bill initiative that was not as blatantly absent in past years was any coalition between agriculture and the supporters of nutrition programs. Those supporters, primarily metropolitan Democrats, turned away from the Farm Bill Thursday, but agricultural organizations had little to say in favor of SNAP programs during the run-up to the vote. An important alliance in the past that helped both sides achieve their goals was not part of the formula in trying to pass H.R. 1947.
It is back to square one for agriculture and the House Agriculture Committee after the U.S. House defeated the proposal for the 2013 Farm Bill. Democrats withdrew support because of cuts to nutrition funding, and Republicans withdrew their support because not enough was cut from the budget. Leaders have promised a new proposal soon, however, any bill that may try to get more Republican support in an effort to seek a majority will have more difficulty in being reconciled with the Senate’s Farm Bill.
Source: FarmGate blog