House farm bill timing remains unclear as holiday recess looms

• It will be some time before the House farm bill can be considered again as Congress will be on recess next week for the July 4 holiday.

The House of Representatives is not likely to take the Agriculture Appropriations to the floor this week, instead choosing to focus on the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill, student loan and highway bills, and the contempt of Congress measure against U.S. Attorney Eric Holder.  

This means it will be some time before the bill can be considered again as Congress will be on recess next week for the July 4 holiday.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) has promised that the uncertainty over the appropriations will not affect the House Ag Committee’s July 11 plans to markup their version of the farm bill. 

The THUD appropriations bill may have been delayed due to uncertainty surrounding Congress’s Highway Bill. Republicans and Democrats reached a tentative agreement on the bill this week.

Meanwhile, the White House Office of Budget and Management has issued a veto warning to the appropriations bill, that passed the House Appropriations Committee by voice vote on June 19, before it has had a chance to go to the floor. 

The administration cited cuts to the international food aid program, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and Food and Drug Administration as major factors in their decision.

Speaking on behalf of the committee passed bill, House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rodgers (R-Ky.) said “This legislation represents a careful balance between fiscal restraint and responsible investments in programs to support an abundant and safe food and drug supply, promote US interests in the global economy, and encourage economic development in our rural communities.” 

The House Committee’s bill funds many important programs such as food safety, animal and plant health, rural development, farm services and nutrition programs with $19.4 billion in discretionary funding.

Looking toward the House legislative calendar, timing is unclear on when the farm bill may hit the floor. The immediate focus for the House Agriculture committee is getting their version of the bill passed through committee.

Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Ranking Member of House Agriculture Committee, said in an interview with Agri-Pulse that “the only thing that’s going to screw this up is if we don’t get floor time.”  

Chairman Lucas also told Agri-Pulse that he has not yet pressed house leadership on floor time for the farm bill, but once it passes through his committee that will be his focus.  

The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) also realizes there are many fundamental policy disagreements on both sides of the aisle, and it is no secret House Republican leaders are facing many road blocks on getting a farm bill done this year.  

However, NAWG encourages the House to work in a bipartisan fashion to pass a farm bill this year.

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