Earlier today, in a party-line vote of 216-208, the House of Representatives passed a stripped down version of the 2013 Farm Bill, containing only farm programs. The bill eliminates the longstanding provision of the law that forces Congress to resolve their differences and come together to pass or extend farm bills to avoid a reversion to 1949 permanent law, which does not work well in today’s agricultural economy.
The bill includes cuts to conservation programs, weakens and creates a loophole in a 25-year requirement that those receiving federal agricultural subsidies must refrain from draining wetlands and prevent excess erosion.
Here are reactions from legislature, commodity organizations and conservation groups.
“The bill passed by the House today is not a real Farm Bill and is an insult to rural America, which is why it’s strongly opposed by more than 500 farm, food and conservation groups. We will go to conference with the bipartisan, comprehensive Farm Bill that was passed in the Senate that not only reforms programs, supports families in need and creates agriculture jobs, but also saves billions more than the extremely flawed House bill.”
– Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee
“ASA is relieved that we will finally see a conference on the farm bill. However today's approval by the House on a partial bill will mean nothing if we can't get a bill back from conference that both chambers will pass. In that sense, there is still much work to be done.
“ASA is opposed to the replacement of permanent law by whatever legislation may result from this process. If only Title 1 of a new farm bill is made permanent, other titles – including conservation, research, energy and trade – would risk not being reauthorized when the bill expires after five years, since Title 1 would remain in place. Also, we are very concerned that Title 1 of a new bill could include provisions that would distort plantings and production in years of low prices, and that it would be extremely difficult to change these provisions if the legislation were made permanent.
“ASA now calls on both the House and Senate to work in a bipartisan manner to craft a conference bill that has the ability to pass both the House and Senate and be signed by the president before Sept. 30 when existing authorities for important risk management, trade expansion, conservation, bio-energy and agricultural research authorities all expire."
– Danny Murphy, president, American Soybean Association.
“This is the worst farm bill for soil, water and wildlife in at least 25 years. It would cut conservation funding, allow the destruction of hundreds of thousands of acres of wetlands, exempt pesticides used in our nation’s waters from the Clean Water Act, allow continued incentives for destroying native prairies, and allow for greatly increased soil erosion.”
“This is an incredibly disappointing day for our soil, water and wildlife,” Schweiger added. “The National Wildlife Federation strongly believes that we need a full 5-year farm bill that protects natural resources and taxpayers, but this is not the right bill and this is not the right process.”
– Larry Schweiger, president and CEO, National Wildlife Federation
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“Illinois Farm Bureau has worked with our congressional delegation and others for more than two years to get a five-year farm bill passed that will strengthen crop insurance, fine tune commodity and conservation programs, and provide deficit reduction for taxpayers. IFB opposed H.R. 2642 because it would break up the farm bill coalition, eliminate the incentive to write future farm bills, and threaten the future viability of crop insurance.
“Despite our opposition today, IFB will continue to play a constructive role in the farm bill debate. We urge House leadership to appoint conferees and encourage all parties to work in good faith to enact a mutually acceptable, bipartisan five-year farm bill that provides long sought after policy certainty for farmers and consumers alike.”
– Philip Nelson, president, Illinois Farm Bureau
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