House Passes Farm Bill

The House of Representatives Friday morning passed the Farm Security Act of 2001 by a vote of 291-120, after previously defeating a controversial conservation amendment and an amendment to reauthorize regional dairy compacts.

The House passed the bill against the wishes of the Bush administration, which said the bill was too expensive and did not reflect the administration's farm policy principles.

The $170 billion bill passed by the House would guarantee grain, soybean and cotton growers an additional $49 million in subsidies over the next 10 years -- a 64% increase in subsidy spending.

The bill now goes to the Senate where we would not expect it to be acted on any time soon. The Senate has yet to write its own farm bill proposal.

Senate Ag Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa and the ranking Republican on the Panel, Richard Luger of Indiana, both favor increased conservation or "green" payments. Lugar has been particularly critical of the House version.

We still expect that it will be next year before a final bill is worked out and that it will look substantially different than the House proposal.

House Rejects Conservation Amendment

Prior to approval of its Farm Bill version, the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday rejected the so-called "Kind Amendment," which would have shifted a large amount of federal funding out of farm subsidies and into conservation programs. The amendment was defeated 226-200.

The amendment would have taken $19 billion out of the $43 billion allocated for crop subsidies and used it to pay for new environmental programs, including a new program to protect wellheads and public water supplies from farm runoff.

Passage of the "Kind Amendment" would have likely killed passage of the bill since House Ag committee leaders would have withdrawn it from consideration.

Editors note: Richard Brock, Soybean Digest's Marketing Editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.

To see more market perspectives, visit Brock's Web site at www.brockreport.com