WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Senate passed its version of the Farm Bill two weeks ago, now the House of Representatives begins markup of the bill in the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Affairs this week: Wednesday, July 11.
The Senate version of the Farm Bill includes a Dairy Title that closely resembles the Dairy Security Act (DSA), which was introduced last year by Reps. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Mike Simpson (R-Idaho).
Peterson is ranking member of the House Ag Committee, which begins markup of the five-year legislation on Wednesday.
In preparation for markup, Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) publicly released the full legislative text and a summary of the House Farm Bill “Discussion Draft.” This is the framework for Committee Markup on Wednesday, July 11 at 10 a.m. in Washington.
Lucas and Peterson call the House Farm Bill the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM) and they tout the $35 billion in savings over 10 years compared with $23 billion of savings in the Senate passed Farm Bill. They also tout the way the bill streamlines and reforms commodity policy to save $14 billion. Where the Senate passed bill cuts $4 billion from food stamps, the House Draft cuts $16 billion through "integrity and accountability" measures. The Supplemental Food Assistance Program (SNAP), also commonly known as "food stamps" makes up close to 80% of total Farm Bill expenditures!
The House bill reforms conservation measures and includes a regulatory relief section.
But the devil's in the details. Under the Discussion Draft, the Sugar program stays the same, and the Dairy program is reformed to look more like Sugar -- without the import protections Sugar enjoys.
Like the Senate passed Farm Bill, the House Discussion Draft currently contains the two “coupled” Dairy Security Act pieces: A Dairy Production Margin Protection Program and Dairy Market Stabilization Program. Producers who sign up for the “protection” – either the base level or the base level plus supplemental – are forced to participate in the Dairy Market Stabilization Program.
The Committee Markup process will undoubtedly bring some changes to the Discussion Draft. For starters, dairy producers will be interested to know that Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Rep. David Scott (D-GA) have a bipartisan amendment to remove the Dairy Market Stablization Program from the Farm Bill and make the Dairy Margin Protection Program a two-tiered program instead.
On page 118 the 2012 House draft Farm Bill repeals section 1509 from the 2007 farm bill. That was the section that authorized the Federal Order Review Commission. Producers who seek price reforms are concerned about this aspect of the bill. Section 1510 is not mentioned, specifically, for repeal as in the Senate passed bill where 1510 was "replaced" with language governing reporting frequency.
The House version contains no language for price reform or to expand the products that are included in mandatory price reporting. The Senate bill contains a few of those provisions.