At a press conference last week, Ranking Member Bob Goodlatte voiced his support for the farm bill agreement worked out between the principal House and Senate farm bill negotiators late Wednesday afternoon. The Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 conference agreement contains significant reforms and is the most reform-oriented farm bill produced by a conference committee in many years. While the policy decisions have been made, the conferees are awaiting budget scores from the Congressional Budget Office on several provisions before completing the final conference report.



Since January 2008, House and Senate conferees have been working to come to an agreement on the differences between the farm bills passed by each Chamber. Budgetary problems plagued the conference process for months and were recently resolved, allowing Members to address policy issues and discuss the merits of the farm bill.



"The agreement that we've constructed addresses nutrition, renewable energy and conservation, among others, while maintaining a safety net that allows for the continued production of an abundant, safe and affordable food supply. We've made great strides in reforming farm programs to reduce benefits going to the wealthiest of farmers and non-farmers alike, require direct attribution of benefits, establish a revenue-based counter-cyclical program, strengthen beneficial interest, and strengthen the integrity of the crop insurance program in addition to several other significant reforms. For the first time in history, we're putting a hard cap on the adjusted gross income (AGI) standard to prevent the wealthiest from receiving payments. That's a significant step!" said Ranking Member Goodlatte.



Once the conference report is compiled and signed by a majority of the conferees, it will considered by both the House and Senate. House consideration of the conference report is expected this week.



"The programs that we have in place continue to provide Americans with safe, affordable food and fiber even as many places in the world are experiencing significant food shortages. This is because we've established a food production system that is consistent and produces enough to meet growing demand domestically and abroad. Now, more than ever, the benefits of this system, and the programs necessary to make it work, are evident," said Ranking Member Goodlatte.