The House Agriculture Committee has approved, by a 35-11 vote, a farm bill that would reduce spending by $35 billion over 10 years. Like the Senate version of the bill, the House bill eliminates the 20-year-old “direct payment” subsidy program. The committee’s approval means the bill could go to the House floor for a vote. But House leaders have shown little enthusiasm for taking up the legislation that faces opposition from conservatives who say its too expensive and from Democrats who don’t like the cuts in food stamps. The Senate passed its version in June with significant differences.
The farm bill costs nearly $100 billion a year, with 80 percent devoted to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The House legislation would save $3.5 billion a year from current spending levels, with $1.6 billion coming from tightening rules for food stamp beneficiaries. Savings in the Senate bill are $2.3 billion a year, of which $400 million comes from the food stamp program.
National Corn Growers Association President Garry Niemeyer released the following statement in response to the House Agriculture Committee’s passage of the bill. He said, “The National Corn Growers Association is disappointed the House Agriculture Committee’s passed version of the 2012 farm bill does not include a more viable market-oriented risk management program. We support moving the legislative process forward and urge Speaker Boehner to schedule time for full House floor consideration before the August recess. However, we feel there needs to be significant changes made to the legislation. Our farmers will be working with members of the House of Representatives to ensure those changes are included in a final package.”
National Association of Wheat Growers President Erik Younggren, who farms wheat, sugar beets and soybeans near Hallock, Minn., also had a few words to say about the passage.
“NAWG was happy to see Members of the House Agriculture Committee approve their version of the 2012 Farm Bill early this morning, and we strongly encourage House Leadership to schedule floor time for the bill as soon as possible. My fellow farmers will begin planting winter wheat in just a couple of months. It is very important they and all farmers have an understanding of the farm safety net available to them when they make the substantial investments required for the new crop. In addition to crop insurance and Title I policies, the bill passed today includes important provisions with regards to conservation, research, food aid, marketing and nutrition that should not be subjected to the uncertainty of short-term extensions. We commend Chairman Lucas and Ranking Member Peterson for undertaking the mark-up in an expeditious fashion and allowing Committee Members’ voices to be heard. We look forward to the floor process and finalizing new farm and food policy before Sept. 30.”