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May 03
​Farm Bill Slated to Move in May
Both the House and Senate Agriculture Committee leadership have announced they will work to move the farm bill through their committees this month.  While the dates for the mark ups have not been announced, the Senate committee could move as early as next week and the House committee is targeting May 15.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) announced that the chairman’s mark would likely cut spending by $38 billion over 10 years.  That would be roughly $11 billion more than last year’s bill.  The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which accounts for about 80 percent of farm bill spending, would be reduced by $20 billion under the new bill, with the rest of the savings coming primarily out of the commodity and conservation titles.  The cut to SNAP would be significantly larger than the $11.7 billion the committee proposed last year as part of an overall $26.6 billion reduction.  That bill was originally projected to save $35 billion overall, but the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) last month reduced its estimate of the SNAP savings by $4.3 billion and raised the cost projections for the commodity, crop insurance and conservation titles. 

Lucas also said the new bill would make bigger cuts in conservation spending, including the Conservation Stewardship Program, and keep a similar commodity title.  He also said that the commodity title would have the same basis as last year, which would mean elimination of the direct payments program, which costs $4.9 billion per year.  The bill would create two new farm programs:  a shallow-loss program to pay for losses not covered by crop insurance or a program with payments when crop prices fall below target prices.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) expects the Senate bill to cut $23 billion over 10 years, the same as last year.  The bill is likely to remain largely similar to last year, except for the commodity title which is still being negotiated between the chair and her new ranking member, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.).  Southern senators were unhappy with the lack of target prices in last year’s farm bill, which work better for southern rice and peanut farmers.  Therefore, there is speculation that the chairman’s mark will alter the commodity title slightly to appease the new ranking member.

The 2008 Farm Bill expired on Sept. 30, 2012.  On Jan. 1, 2013, Congress passed the fiscal cliff deal (H.R. 8), which included an extension of the farm bill through Sept. 30, 2013, but ended mandatory funding for NACo priority programs in the Rural Development Title ($150 million cut), Renewable Energy Title ($1 billion cut) and the Beginning Farmer/Rancher Program ($75 million cut).  NACo is working to support passage of a five year farm bill that restores funding to these critical areas.  To weigh in with your Congressional delegation in advance of the mark ups, use the talking points in NACo’s Farm Bill policy brief.

Contact: Erik Johnston ejohnston@naco.org 202.942.4230

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