In an astonishing move to push a bill forward, the U.S. House of Representatives managed Thursday to pass H.R. 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, excluding the nutrition title.
Democrats spent most of the day employing procedural tactics to slow debate and delay a vote on final passage, yet leadership still managed to garner enough votes to move the bill forward by a vote of 216-208.
The revised bill included every title except the highly debated nutrition title and included amendment provisions that passed when the bill was brought to the floor the week of June 17.
It also repealed the1938 and 1949 permanent farm laws with new Title I language.
Farm groups were quick to respond.
National Sorghum Producers
National Sorghum Producers Chairman Terry Swanson released the following statement in response to the bill’s passage:
“While the road leading to this point in the farm bill process is unconventional, National Sorghum Producers supports the revised bill that was before Congress today and thanks the Members of the House of Representatives for passing the bill.
“We stand behind the leadership of Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas and his decision to move forward in this way as a means to getting a bill to conference committee that will ultimately result in a comprehensive, five-year farm bill.”
National Cotton Council
NCC Chairman Jimmy Dodson emphasized that the House measure includes reform by transitioning away from traditional price and income support programs while simultaneously strengthening and enhancing crop insurance.
Dodson said, "while this is not the process we would have preferred, it is an important step which we hope will lead to successful and timely development of critically important new farm legislation.
“We urge Members to return to the practice of working in a bipartisan basis to develop effective policy. We are especially grateful to House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) for his leadership in getting this legislation across the House floor with a minimum of damaging amendments.
“We also appreciate the efforts of Ranking Member Peterson (D-Minn.) for his support during the Committee's development of the 2013 legislation. While we understand his concern about today's process, we look forward to continuing to work with all Committee leaders as the process moves forward."
The U.S. cotton industry also expressed sincere appreciation to Chairman Lucas and other Cotton Belt members of the Committee for their support that ensured the House legislation included the Stacked Income Protection Plan (STAX) and transition payments to assist cotton producers and their lenders while USDA's Risk Management Agency completes the challenging task of fully implementing the new STAX insurance program.
"This provides our growers with certainty and serves as the basis for a final resolution of the longstanding Brazil World Trade Organization case," Dodson stated.
Also significant, Dodson noted, is that the House legislation addresses the entire cotton industry's interests by including provisions that: 1) assist U.S. textile manufacturers, 2) extend the marketing assistanceloan and adjusted world price redemption process, 3) continue conservation programs, 4) extend the highly successful Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Program, which provide seed money for export promotion programs, and 5) extend the extra-long staple cotton program.
American Soybean Association
American Soybean Association
American Soybean Association (ASA) President Danny Murphy, a soybean farmer from Canton, Miss., issued the following statement on the vote:
“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 September 30 when existing authorities for important risk management, trade expansion, conservation, bio-energy, and agricultural research authorities all expire.”
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Scott George, a beef and dairy producer from Cody, Wyo., issued the following statement on the passage of the legislation:
“First, we thank House Agriculture Committee Chairman Lucas of Oklahoma, who in this very difficult environment produced a farm bill that passed out of the House and continues the process toward providing farmers and ranchers the certainty they need.
“Passage of a 2013 farm bill is the top priority for NCBA, and today the House took the unprecedented step in separating the nutrition title from the farm bill, and passing a bill that only encompasses agriculture. This step is a major departure from the usual business of agricultural policy, but I am pleased that cattlemen and women are one step closer toward final legislation which not only provides certainty for producers, but also incorporates priorities important to the cattle industry.
“We are very pleased that this legislation includes disaster programs for our producers, which will extend disaster assistance for five years and retroactively covers losses in 2012 and 2013.
“The legislation authorizes conservation programs important to cattle producers as a tool to leverage private dollars with some federal support to further protect the land and natural resources. It contains language to prevent the United States Department of Agriculture from moving forward on the proposed GIPSA rule from the 2008 farm bill.
“There are also important amendments included in the legislation which rein in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These amendments provides regulatory relief to cattle producers, prevent EPA from releasing producers’ personal information to third parties such as environmental activist groups and prohibit EPA from regulating forest roads under the Clean Water Act (CWA).
“NCBA appreciates the efforts of Chairman Frank Lucas, Ranking Member Collin Peterson of Minnesota and their committee members who worked in a bipartisan fashion to pass a bill out of the Agriculture Committee. We will continue to work with the House and Senate conferees to ensure the final bill meets the priorities of America’s cattle industry.”
National Grange Legislative Director Grace Boatright issued the following statement Thursday afternoon:
"The Grange is happy that the House finally passed a farm bill, although we have very mixed thoughts about splitting it from the Nutrition Title.
“This is a giant step in the right direction but we're still a long way from getting a full five-year farm bill.
“We believe the Senate will not be very receptive to a farm bill without a Nutrition Title, which includes food stamps, WIC, and school lunch programs.
“But more pressing is the issue of time. There are less than three weeks until Congress takes its August recess, making it increasingly more difficult for members to settle this issue before the Sept. 30 deadline.
“The clock is ticking and the Grange hopes that our legislators on the Hill will be able to reach some sort of agreement soon. If they don't, American agriculture will continue to struggle."
Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance
“The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance (SCFBA) welcomes the House passage of the revised 2013 farm bill today as the next step to enacting a five-year plan for federal agriculture policy.
“We are pleased that both the House and Senate bills address many of the critical priorities outlined by the SCFBA and continue the support of specialty crops that was established in the 2008 farm bill.
“We look forward to working with negotiators to advance legislation through conference committee and to the president’s desk for his signature.
American Farm Bureau Federation
“The American Farm Bureau Federation looks forward to moving ahead with fundamental farm policy legislation, following House passage today of H.R. 2642. While we don’t yet know what the next steps will be, we will be working with both sides of the aisle and both chambers of Congress to ensure passage of a new five-year farm bill.
“While we were hopeful the farm bill would not be split, nor permanent law repealed, we will now focus our efforts on working with lawmakers to deliver a farm bill to the president’s desk for his signature by September.”
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