A Farm Bill Conference Report has been released which means just two votes and one signature are the obstacles left before there’s a 2014 farm law. The first of those votes will likely happen Wednesday morning on the floor of the U.S. House.
Plenty of farm groups and legislators are pleased with the farm bill conference report released this week. House Ag Committee Chairman and Chairman of the Farm Bill Frank Lucas says the Farm Bill Conference Report is nothing short of a miracle given the political atmosphere in Washington.
“We had to take a process by which we had no money to work with. We had to achieve substantial savings, $23 billion less spent on this coming farm bill than was spent on the previous farm bill; where you have a House of Representatives where almost half the body was not around for the 2008 debate and didn’t understand the process. You’ve got the divided political nature of Congress, a very conservative House and a very liberal President, and nobody really in charge in the Senate. All of that together and to wind up with a bill that has a strong safety net for producers, makes reforms in both the commodity title and the food stamp title, a farm bill that will work for rural America, will continue to make sure we have the ability to raise the food and fiber we need, in this environment we’re in it’s just a political, a legislative miracle.”
Lucas says the dairy title was the most difficult to overcome, but he says the overall bill is market-driven.
Major reforms in the Agricultural Act of 2014 include elimination of the direct payment program, streamlining and consolidating numerous programs to improve their effectiveness and reduce duplication and cutting down on program misuse. The bill also strengthens the nation’s commitment to support farmers and ranchers affected by natural disasters or significant economic losses and renews a national commitment to protect land, water and other natural resources.
The American Farm Bureau Federation released a statement by its President, Bob Stallman, who urged “House and Senate members to pass H.R. 2642, the 2014 Farm Bill. The bill will provide farmers and ranchers certainty for the coming year and allow the Agriculture Department to begin planning for implementation of the bill’s provisions.
“We appreciate the hard work of the conferees to get the farm bill to this point. They had many tough decisions to make, but were able to move forward with a solid bill that includes many Farm Bureau-supported provisions. We are particularly pleased with provisions to provide risk management to fruit and vegetable farmers and to support livestock farmers during disasters. We now urge House members to bring it on home by voting in support of the bill.
“It is imperative that all of agriculture unify behind this farm bill, for the good of the whole of American agriculture, consumers, our hard-working farm and ranch families and the rural communities they support.”