The House of Representatives appears to be leaning away from the Senate version of the 2012 Farm Bill, setting up a fight between both houses of Congress and a potentially long conference committee debate to reconcile the two potentially competing versions of the bill.
Much of the opposition has come from Southern representatives who feel that the Senate bill undermines vital agricultural safety nets. Rice farmers, for example, led by Texas Representative Linda Raun, objected to cuts to rice protections in the federal Agricultural Risk Coverage shallow loss program. Representative Raun stated in a meeting of the House Agriculture Committee, “That basically takes away our safety net.”
Oklahoma Representative and chair of the House Ag Committee Frank Lucas also criticized the regionalism he saw in the Senate bill. “As I have said many times, farm policy has to be equitable. The Farm Bill that we craft has to recognize the diversity of agriculture in America. It has to work for all regions and all commodities. That’s why it is vitally important that the Commodity Title provide producers with options so they can choose the program that works best for them whether it is protecting revenue or price.”
Budget hawks in the House also object to the amount of spending cuts in the Senate bill, with some Representatives believing that the cuts should reach much higher than the Senate’s proposed $24 billion. Budget Committee chair Paul Ryan, for example, proposed more than $30 billion in agricultural spending cuts.
Whether this will delay the passage of a new bill remains to be seen, but with only four months left until the current farm bill expires, any delay could threaten the stability of federal farm policy.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer