House Ag Passes Farm Bill

Cindy Zimmerman

adjournedThe House Agriculture Committee passed the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 by a vote of 36 to 10, officially putting on their hats and adjourning at a quarter before midnight in the Eastern time Wednesday after more than ten hours of farm bill markup considering 100 amendments.

“This is an adventure that started several years ago,” said Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) at the end. “It’s taken two markups to get to this point. We have an adventure ahead of us in June.”

Speaking to farm broadcasters before the process began Wednesday morning, Lucas expected it to be a long day but not as long as last year’s markup and they did manage to cut that down by a few hours. But he knows this is just the beginning of a much longer process to get a bill passed on the floor. “Whatever we do in the committee, many of the battles – whether it is over dairy, or sugar, or the size of the nutrition reforms, will be fought out again on the floor of the United States House,” he said.

Among the battles fought in the committee was on the dairy program, but members ultimately voted to support the Dairy Security Act (DSA)and reject an amendment by Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and David Scott (D-GA) that would have removed the supply management mechanism of the act.

“Supply management is antithetical to the future growth of the dairy industry,” Goodlatte and Scott said in a statement expressing their disappointment in the vote. “A supply control program that will directly intervene in markets and increase milk prices will ultimately hurt dairy producers and consumers as well as dairy food manufacturers by stifling industry growth.”

A $20.5 billion cut to nutrition programs survived the committee markup after hours of debate and many of the ten members who voted against the final bill did so because of those cuts. The nutrition title makes up 80% of the “farm bill” spending. Cuts to the other 20% the bill amount to about $18 billion. “This is the first real reform to the nutrition title in almost 20 years,” said Lucas.

Farm Bill