The U.S. House of Representatives passed the compromise 2014 Farm Bill Wednesday by a vote of 251-166 and the Senate is expected to take up and pass the bill next week. University of Illinois farm policy specialist Jonathan Coppess is confident the measure will be guided to passage by Senator Debbie Stabenow.
“Our optimism is even higher in the Senate,” he said. “After passing it twice and then knowing the chairwoman who will be working very, very hard to get this through, I think those votes re in pretty good shape. I’m confident the President will sign it and we’ll see a farm bill and see 5 years of this, and probably in a short time start talking about the next one.”
Meat packers and some livestock groups attacked the bill for keeping Country-of-Origin-Labeling and GIPSA livestock marketing reforms even though it revives livestock disaster aid.
The National Milk Producers Federation reluctantly endorsed the bill despite its use of a different means than was favored to limit overproduction under a new dairy market insurance program.
There were full throated endorsements though from the National Corn Growers Association and the American Soybean Association.
Following this morning’s passage of the Agricultural Act of 2014 by the House of Representatives, the American Soybean Association (ASA) applauded the vote and quickly turned its attention to the upper chamber, encouraging the Senate to take up and pass the farm bill as quickly as possible. ASA President and Iowa farmer Ray Gaesser reiterated just how close the vote brings soybean farmers to a bill more than three years in the making.
“We are very, very close,” said Gaesser. “The House has done its part and come together across party lines to pass a good bill—a compromise bill—that represents the needs of soybean farmers and so many other aspects of agriculture. The House is to be commended for its work, but there’s no time to waste. We’ve been operating without a farm bill since the end of September; that means no certainty when it comes to risk management, export market promotion, programs that assist our industry’s growing biodiesel and biobased products sectors, and countless others. Moreover, USDA needs time to put these programs in place for 2014 crops, which begin to be harvested in May. The Senate needs to take up the bill and pass it immediately so we can put this process behind us and keep producing and planning for the tough challenges ahead.”
ASA has been active in support of the bill, which provides for multiple soybean farmer priorities, most notably a flexible farm safety net that includes a choice between price-based and revenue-based risk management tools and maintains the decoupling of payments from current planted acreage under both programs.
ASA supports the bill’s risk management framework; its strengthening of crop insurance; streamlining and optimization of conservation programs; investment in critical trade development and renewables like biodiesel and biobased products; support for beginning farmers and ranchers and acknowledgment of the role of agricultural research.
“We have maintained throughout this process that we are willing to work together with all of agriculture to move this process forward,” Gaesser said. “The bill is a reflection of that willingness to cooperate and compromise and Chairwoman Stabenow, Chairman Lucas, and Ranking Members Cochran and Peterson deserve great credit for producing a bill that captures that cooperation and compromise so well.
“We can see the finish line,” he added. “It’s been a long, long road to this point, but we’re almost there. It’s up to the Senate now to bring this process to fruition by passing the farm bill.”
The National Corn Growers Association thanked members of the House of Representatives for quick passage today of the 2014 farm bill, the Agricultural Act of 2014. The bill passed the lower chamber with a 251-166 vote.
“We’re thrilled to see today’s action on the part of the House and look forward to an equally fast consideration in the Senate,” said NCGA President Martin Barbre, who observed the floor vote from the House gallery while visiting the Capitol. “This legislation provides an adequate and flexible farm safety net, as well as a strong federal crop insurance program. More importantly, farmers need the certainty of a new five-year law, and we are happy to see this legislation includes many reforms we’ve supported and stressed over the years, reforms that make sense both for farmers and taxpayers.
Among other specific provisions, the bill:
- Eliminates controversial direct payments while maintaining decoupled farm support programs that will minimize the possibility of planting and production distortions that could trigger new World Trade Organization challenges.
- Allows farmer to either maintain existing crop acreage base or to reallocate their current base to reflect average acres planted to covered commodities in 2009-2012, a reform that will make programs more relevant and more defensible while not tying them to current-year plantings.
- Consolidates 23 previous conservation programs into 13, and focuses conservation efforts on working lands. It also ties conservation compliance for wetlands and highly erodible land to premium support for crop insurance.
- Maintains authorizations for important agricultural research programs, including AFRI, as well as including a new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research that will provide a structure and mandatory funding for new public/private partnerships and investments that will further USDA’s research mission.
- Maintains authorizations and funding levels for export promotion, including the Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program and the Market Access Program (MAP).
Continues the combined authorization of both agricultural and nutrition programs, a linkage that has been essential in enacting every farm bill since 1974.