Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Farm Bill compromise passes House by 251-166 vote; Senate is expected to pass it

"The House approved the five-year Farm Bill today, with a 251-166 vote, sending the nearly $1 trillion agricultural policy package to the Senate," Derrick Cain reports for Agri-Pulse, a Washington newsletter. "The bill would eliminate direct payments in favor of enhanced crop insurance, revise commodity supports, create a new dairy program and make several other changes to agricultural policy, including an approximate $8 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program," better known as food stamps.

Rep. Frank Lucas
The Senate is expected to approve the legislation—possibly as early as next week—and President Obama to sign it into law, Cain writes. House Agriculture Committee Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) said, "It may not have everything my friends on the right may and it may not have everything my friends on the left may want. But, it's a compromise.”

"The Congressional Budget Office released a score for the bill Tuesday estimating that direct spending for authorized programs would total $956 billion over 10 years, of which $756 billion would be for nutrition programsm," Cain writes. "Relative to spending and revenues projected under CBO's May 2013 baseline, CBO said it estimates that enacting the legislation would lower budget deficits by $16.6 billion and increase revenues by $100 million over 10 years. This came in below the $23 billion in possible savings being touted by bill supporters, but they noted that the Farm Bill baseline had already been reduced by $6.6 billion" through budget sequesters. (Read more)

The bill includes "a new revenue insurance subsidy that would pay farmers in the event of 'shallow losses' or revenue losses incurred before their paid crop insurance kicks in. That program might kick in sooner than previously thought as some crop prices have dropped in recent months," The Associated Press reports. Also, "a separate subsidy program would trigger payments when crop prices drop. This is similar to current subsidies, though the new programs would kick in sooner, especially for cotton and rice, the crops that depend the most on the direct payments that would be phased out. Producers would have to choose between these subsidies or the revenue insurance." (Read more)

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