Will 2013 be the year a five-year Farm Bill is passed?
In mid-May, work began on the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 with a mark up by the Senate Ag Committee and a full hearing of the House Ag Committee.
The newly drafted Senate Farm Bill includes rules and regulations similar to the House’s Farm Bill as it relates to peanuts. If you recall, the Farm Bill released by the Senate in 2012 effectively left out rice and peanuts, prompting Southern senators to withhold their support. Efforts were made to include those committees this go-round and secure those votes by including target prices for rice and peanuts.
New Senate Bill Includes Peanuts
For rice, the target price will be $13.30 per hundredweight, and for peanuts it is $523.77 per ton.
Producers of both would have the option to update their yields, but any future counter-cyclical payments will be calculated on 85 percent of base or historical acres for a farm. Although it was thought that Southern producers would have preferred to be free to operate based on their planted acres, this was a compromise insisted upon by Midwest critics who argue that the target prices will drive planting decisions unless some cap is set.
The bill also would include a new crop insurance coverage for peanut producers, and both bills continue to keep the supplemental coverage option in the crop insurance title of the Farm Bill. The program allows farmers to buy a county-based average yield insurance that would supplement their individual insurance policy. The House also marries with the Senate by trimming back the premium level that would be paid by taxpayers to 65 percent of the coverage cost. Last year’s bill set the taxpayer subsidy at 70 percent. The House bill does not include the payment subsidy caps included in the Senate bill, nor does the House bill tighten rules on who is considered an “actively-engaged” producer.
If the two bills can pass, House Chairman Lucas will chair the Conference Committee to reconcile any differences before the full Congress can vote on a new five-year Farm Bill.
House Bill Touts $40 Billion Savings
Chairman Frank Lucas of Oklahoma and Ranking Member Collin Peterson of Minnesota issued the following statements after the House Agriculture Committee approved H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2013, by a large, bipartisan vote of 36 to 10 on May 15, 2013. Committee Members also adopted, by voice vote, an en bloc amendment.
“I am proud of the Committee’s effort to advance a Farm Bill with significant savings and reforms. We achieve nearly $40 billion in savings by eliminating out-dated government programs and reforming others. No other committee in Congress is voluntarily cutting money, in a bipartisan way, from its jurisdiction to reduce the size and scope of the federal government. I appreciate the efforts of my colleagues and the bipartisan nature in which this legislation was written and approved. I look forward to debating the bill on the House floor this summer,” said Chairman Lucas.
“I’m pleased the Committee was able to work together, find some common ground, and advance a five-year Farm Bill today. Needless to say this process has gone on far too long and it is past time to get this bill done. With today’s action, I’m optimistic the Farm Bill will continue through regular order and be brought to the House floor in June. If we can stay on track, I think we should be able to conference with the Senate in July and have a new five-year Farm Bill in place before the August recess,” said Peterson. PG
Highlights of the House FARRM Bill:
• Nearly $40 billion in savings, including the immediate sequestration of $6 billion.
• Repeals or consolidates more than 100 programs.
• Eliminates direct payments.
• Streamlines commodity policies while giving producers risk management options.
• Includes the first reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) since the Welfare Reform Act of 1996 saving more than $20 billion.
• Consolidates 23 conservation programs into 13, improving program delivery to producers and saving more than $6 billion.
• Builds on previous investments to fruit and vegetable production, farmers markets and local food systems.
• Includes several regulatory relief measures to help mitigate burdens farmers, ranchers and rural communities face.