Speaking to the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives Wednesday – House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas said he expects the farm bill to come up on the House floor next week. He expressed his hope that around Monday the Rules Committee would put out a call for amendments – which he expects hundreds of. Then on Tuesday – Lucas hopes the Rules Committee will sort through the amendments, realize redundancy isn’t a good use of time and limit the number of amendments on each subject. Lucas is looking for an open but orderly process – and believes the House will likely vote on 30 to 40 amendments covering every area – including food stamps, sugar, dairy, conservation and crop insurance. Once the House achieves consensus on the farm bill – Lucas isn’t sure what the measure will look like. He said it will be a document that brings the farm bill to conference. Once the conference report comes to the House and Senate – it will not be subject to amendment. There will be up or down votes with a majority in each body required for passage.
House Speaker John Boehner has expressed his opposition to the Dairy Security Act written by Ag Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson and included in the committee’s bill. But Boehner reportedly said Wednesday he will support the farm bill. Without a new bill – he said there would be no changes in the farm program or nutrition program. Boehner made his statement following a House Republican Conference where Lucas was to explain the importance of the farm bill to all Republican members of the House.
But at a National Milk Producers Federation reception on Tuesday that the dairy issue isn’t the only hurdle to passage of the farm bill. He said he feels somewhat optimistic – but explained it’s not a sure thing they’ll have enough votes to pass the bill.
American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman says House Speaker John Boeher’s statement of support for the farm bill gives all Americans real optimism that Washington can get important work done in 2013. National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said it was promising to hear House leadership is embracing the farm bill and its importance to all Americans – and applauded Ag Committee leaders Frank Lucas and Collin Peterson for their bipartisan leadership in getting the bill to the floor. Stallman also pointed to the fact that Congress is advancing bipartisan farm legislation and said Boehner has been unfairly attacked by those who want to make the bipartisan progress on a farm bill appear to be the work of party politics by President Obama or the speaker itself. He called it unfortunate that outside political groups with no interest in the agricultural economy or the farm and ranch families who underpin our rural economies have reacted by promoting inaction.
NFU’s Johnson also took the opportunity to reiterate the importance of moving the farm bill toward conference and final passage before the September 30th deadline. He said According to Johnson – FARRM makes significant, much-needed reforms to agriculture programs – including significant deficit reduction. NFU’s also supportive of the elimination of direct payments. Johnson says American farmers need a safety net in times of natural disaster and long-term price collapse – not when conditions are more favorable. American Farm Bureau called on Congress to work through a fair process and an open debate to finish the House bill, leading to a conference committee – which can then produce legislation that reflects the will of the American people. Johnson says NFU will continue working with members of Congress through the floor process in the House and the conference process to ensure the final result is a comprehensive, five-year bill that is the best it can be.
Source: NAFB News Service