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View From the Hill: Farm Bill Status Update
 

By Grace Boatright, National Grange View From the Hill Blog (7/17/12)

  JULY 17, 2012 --
The Farm Bill, also under the more politically correct title of “The Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act” or FARRM, has been voted out of the House Agriculture Committee, which finished marking up their version of the Farm Bill last Wednesday, and must now wait to be taken up on the House Floor.
As with so many pieces of legislation these days, the Farm Bill will probably be held hostage in the House for a while longer.  It spends nearly a trillion dollars over the next decade, and a price tag of that magnitude will surely not escape the politics of…well… politics. House Republicans would like to put off voting on the bill until next year, when they are hoping to have taken back the Senate and White House, dramatically increasing their chances of passing a more fiscally conservative FB. Naturally, Democrats would like to pass it before the November elections, while they still control the Senate and White House. According to Capital Alpha Partners LLC, the chances of actually passing the Farm Bill this year are around 25%.
However, despite the politics holding up the Farm Bill’s floor debate, the bill itself is actually more bipartisan than you would think, probably due to the strong friendship between Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Collin Peterson (D-MN), both ranking members on the House Ag Committee.
Some quick House Farm Bill highlights include:
  • Saves $35 billion in mandatory funding
  • Repeals or consolidates over 100 programs
  • Cuts $16 billion from SNAP
  • Saves $6 billion by consolidating 23 programs into 13 
Naturally, the big partisan issue plaguing the FB is the food stamp component, aka, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which spends nearly $770 billion over the next 10 years. The Senate Farm Bill only trimmed about $4 billion off of SNAP, while the House version shaves off $16 billion. That’s quite a difference that will certainly be debated heavily on the floor.
Provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill expire on September 30th and there’s only 25 legislative days between now and then, putting immense pressure on legislators to bring the FB up for debate sooner than later. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.
More on this later…
- Grace Boatright
National Grange Legislative Director 
 
 
 
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