House Releases Farm Bill

After weeks of delays, the House of Representatives’ Agriculture Committee has released a draft of their version of the 2012 Farm Bill, setting congressional leaders up for a potentially tense series of reconciliation negotiations before a final bill can be sent to the White House.

For the past several months, the farm bill has been in a state of limbo. Politicians on both sides of the aisle would repeatedly stress the importance of quickly passing a new set of agricultural legislation, but neither house seemed particularly eager to begin the debate, particularly with a presidential election only a few months away.

With the Senate rushing through their version of the farm bill last month, however, the House of Representatives found itself increasingly pressured to pass a bill. After delaying debate past the July 4 recess, the House Agriculture Committee has finally passed their version of the bill.

As many pundits expected, the House bill significantly differs from the recently passed Senate legislation. Unlike the Senate bill, which slashed farm subsidies and imposed moderate reductions to Food Stamp funding, the House bill cuts $16 billion from nutritional funding (four times to amount of cuts in the Senate bill), while increasing many crop subsidies (some are increased roughly 88 percent).

While nutritional activists are alarmed by the deep cuts to the Food Stamp Program, environmentalists and conservationists are worried that the House bill will reduce regulation for genetically modified crops and cuts too much funding from major federal conservation programs (like the Conservation Reserve Program).

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer