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House Passes Farm Bill

Industry reacts as bill goes to conference.

The U.S. House of Representatives in a 216-to-208 vote on July 11 passed the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2013 (H.R. 2642), known as the “farm only” Farm Bill. The bill did not include the nutrition title, changed the 1938 and 1949 permanent law by replacing it with the 2013 bill, and included text of 60+ amendments passed by the full House in June when it considered H.R. 1947, according to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA).

“Today was an important step toward enacting a five-year farm bill this year that gives our farmers and ranchers certainty; provides regulatory relief to small businesses across the country; significantly reduces spending; and makes commonsense, market-oriented reforms to agricultural policy,” said Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture. “I look forward to continuing conversations with my House colleagues and starting conversations with my Senate colleagues on a path forward that ultimately gets a farm bill to the President’s desk in the coming months.”

On the other side of party lines, U.S. House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) took a different tone.

“The House Majority’s decision to ignore the will of the more than 500 organizations with a stake in the Farm Bill, setting the stage for draconian cuts to nutrition programs and eliminating future farm bills altogether, would be laughable if it weren’t true,” said Peterson. “This was not the only option. Following the House failure to pass a comprehensive, bipartisan, five-year farm bill, I repeatedly expressed a willingness to work with the Majority on a path forward. I firmly believed that if we could find a way to remove the partisan amendments adopted during the House farm bill debate we would be able to advance a bipartisan bill, conference with the Senate and see it signed into law this year. Now all that is in question.”

National Grange Legislative Director Grace Boatright voiced concern that the Senate would not be receptive to a farm bill without a nutrition title, which includes food stamps, WIC and school lunch programs.

“More pressing is the issue of time,” she noted, pointing out there is little time before Congress takes its August recess, making it increasingly more difficult to resolve the issue before the Sept. 30 deadline.

“We are very pleased that this legislation includes disaster programs for our producers, which will extend disaster assistance for five years and retroactively covers losses in 2012 and 2013,” said NCBA President Scott George in an official statement. “The legislation authorizes conservation programs important to cattle producers as a tool to leverage private dollars with some federal support to further protect the land and natural resources. It contains language to prevent the United States Department of Agriculture from moving forward on the proposed GIPSA rule from the 2008 Farm Bill.”

George also noted the bill contains amendments to provide regulatory relief to cattle producers, prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from releasing producers’ personal information to third parties and prohibit EPA from regulating forest roads under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

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Editor’s Note: This article contains information from statements released by Lucas, Peterson, NCBA and the National Grange.





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