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Farm Bill Update/ 5-8-2013

Below is an article on the Farm Bill, I doubt it will get passed anytime soon.




Congress set to begin work on new farm bill next week



Congress will take another shot at writing a new $500 billion farm bill next week, lawmakers on the Senate Agriculture Committee said Tuesday.

The head of the panel said drafting of the bill would begin May 14. Most parts of the bill appear to have been ironed out, except for the section that deals with crop subsidies. The House Agriculture Committee is expected to begin work on its own bill May 15, though no formal date has been announced.

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley conceded that even if the farm bill made it out of the Senate Agriculture Committee next week, it’s unlikely to be voted on by the full Senate before lawmakers’ Memorial Day recess.

The Senate is aiming for $23 billion in spending cuts over 10 years, said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., chairwoman of the agriculture panel. It’s expected that sizable food stamp cuts will be required in order to reach that goal. The House is looking for savings of $35 billion over 10 years.

“I’d be surprised if this bill could be done in four or five days on the Senate floor,” Grassley said. It’s possible, he said, that Senate work on the bill will wrap up in June.

The full Senate and the House Agriculture Committee each passed a farm bill last year, but the measures died in Congress.

Lawmakers passed a one-year extension of the 2008 farm law, which runs through Sept. 30.

The farm bill this time around is expected to include many of the same principles, including the end of $5 billion a year in direct payments, expansion of crop insurance and the food stamp spending cuts.

The Senate bill will most likely include higher target prices for grains and oilseeds to satisfy peanut and rice growers, according to Stabenow.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., unsuccessfully fought last year against a reduction in food stamps, also known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, of $4.5 billion over 10 years.

The cuts in the Senate bill this year are expected to total $4.1 billion, and Gillibrand plans to fight them again. She will offer an alternative proposal for an offsetting amount of savings in the crop insurance program.

“Tightening our belts around the waists of children and veterans and active-duty military service members is not how we should be balancing our debt and deficit,’’ she said.

As the House and Senate prepare to begin work on farm legislation, the Environmental Working Group is pushing Congress to fully fund and restructure conservation programs, require basic environmental protections in exchange for subsidies, and reward farmers who grow food in ways that protect soil and water.

“Many farmers are already taking steps to grow food in ways that reduce the need for antibiotics and pesticides and that preserve the land for the next generation of farmers,” said Craig Cox, EWG’s senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources.

“Congress has a huge opportunity to reform conservation programs to make every dollar count and cut back on the misguided subsidies that encourage unsustainable farming practices,” he said.

Brian Tumulty in the Gannett Washington Bureau contributed to this article.


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