House begins Farm Bill debate
Peterson notes that with roughly 16 million American jobs tied to agriculture, the farm bill is a jobs bill. “The rural economy remained strong during our nation’s financial crisis and that has continued during our recovery; this is in large part due to agriculture. And this is why the farm bill is so important. Failing to pass a new, five-year farm bill could potentially devastate our rural economy. Why would we want to jeopardize the one part of the economy that has been, and continues to be, working?”
Lucas points out several reforms included in the House version of the bill.
- It eliminates direct payments costing $5 billion per year, substituting a “more market-oriented approach to policy where there is no support when market prices are high.”
- It repeals the ACRE program, the disaster program for crops, and the counter-cyclical program.
- It eliminates and consolidates 23 duplicative and overlapping conservation programs into 13, which saves nearly $7 billion.
- It authorizes, strengthens, and fully pays for livestock disaster assistance.
- It invests in core specialty crop initiatives like Specialty Crop Block Grants and Plant Pest and Disease Management and Prevention Programs.
- The FARRM Act also reforms the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as the Food Stamp program, for the first time in decades.
Spending reductions for SNAP account for the widest gap between the current House bill and the version passed out of the Senate. The Senate bill calls for about $4 billion in SNAP cuts over 10 years, while the House version would cut spending on SNAP by $20.5 billion over the same period.