The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

May 10, 2013

Ag committee leaders release farm bill draft

Staff reports
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — House Agriculture Committee leaders Friday released a discussion draft of their latest version of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2013 — the farm bill.

Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said the bill will cut nearly $40 billion in spending, including $6 billion in immediate cuts from the so-called sequestration.

“I’m pleased to release this bipartisan legislation with my friend and colleague Collin Peterson,” Lucas said. “It’s a responsible and balanced bill that addresses Americans’ concerns about federal spending and reforms farm and nutrition policy to improve efficiency and accountability.”

The farm bill’s provisions include:

• Repealing or consolidating more than 100 programs.

• Eliminating direct payments, which farmers received  regardless of market conditions.

• Streamlining and reforming commodity policy, saving nearly $14 billion while also giving producers a choice in how best to manage risk.

• Reforming the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), saving more than $20 billion. Lucas said that is the first reforms to the food stamps program since the Welfare Reform Act of 1996.

• Consolidating 23 conservation programs into 13, improving program delivery to producers and saving more than $6 billion.

• Instituting several regulatory relief measures to help mitigate burdens farmers, ranchers and rural communities face.

The House Ag Committee will begin consideration of the bill next week, with a full House vote expected in the summer, Lucas said.  

This is the second attempt to fashion a new farm bill. The House Ag Committee approved a plan in July, but House Speaker John Boehner never brought it to a vote in the full House.

“The discussion draft the chairman and I released today sets us on a path to finally completing a five-year farm bill,” Peterson said Friday. “It closely resembles the bipartisan bill passed by the Agriculture Committee last summer, including a common-sense commodity title that will work for all producers, much-needed reforms to dairy programs and continued support for the sugar program.

“While I do believe that there are more responsible ways to reform nutrition programs, the bottom line is that this is the first step in the process, and it is past time to pass a five-year farm bill.”