Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate passed their version of the 2013 Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act with a bipartisan vote of 66 to 27. Now the attention turns to the House of Representatives, which should bring the measure to the floor before the end of this month.
The House Agricultural Committee approved their version of the bill by a bipartisan vote of 36-10 on May 16.
On Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced he would support the House’s version of FARRM, drawing praise from some groups and criticism from some within his own party.
National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson responded favorably. “It is promising to hear that House leadership is embracing the 2013 Farm Bill and its importance to all Americans,” he says. “I also applaud Reps. Lucas and Peterson for their bipartisan leadership in getting the bill to the floor. In order to provide certainty for U.S. family farmers and ranchers, it is critical that the farm bill continues making progress toward conference and final passage prior to the Sept. 30, deadline.”
“FARRM makes significant, much-needed reforms to agriculture programs, including significant deficit reduction. The farm bill also prevents the necessity for emergency ad hoc disaster programs, which almost always represents deficit spending.
“NFU also supports the bill’s elimination of direct payments. American farmers need a safety net in times of natural disaster and long-term price collapse, not when conditions are more favorable. We will continue to work with members of Congress through the passage in the House and conference process to ensure that we end up with a comprehensive, five-year bill that is the best that it can be.”
The conservative group Heritage Action responded differently. “Republicans retained control of the House to serve as a check on President Obama’s disastrous policies, says the group’s chief executive officer Michael A. Needham. “Advancing a nearly one trillion dollar food stamp and farm bill ignores that mandate. Now is not the time to be locking in the President’s failed stimulus policies.”
Heritage Action also announced it will purchase radio ads targeting House lawmakers supportive of the bill’s nearly $800 billion in food stamp spending. The ads target Reps. Mike Conaway (R-TX), Glenn Thompson (R-PA) and Austin Scott (R-GA). Previous ads targeted Reps. Mike McIntyre (D-NC), Rick Crawford (R-AR), Martha Roby (R-AL), and Frank Lucas (R-OK).
Boehner’s support however, bodes well for the bill, as does the strong bipartisan support within the House Agriculture Committee that brought FARRM closer to a floor vote.
When the measure passed the House Agriculture Committee vote in May, Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Iowa) said: "I am proud of the Committee's effort to advance a farm bill with significant savings and reforms. We achieve nearly $40 billion in savings by eliminating outdated government programs and reforming others. No other committee in Congress is voluntarily cutting money, in a bipartisan way, from its jurisdiction to reduce the size and scope of the federal government. I appreciate the efforts of my colleagues and the bipartisan nature in which this legislation was written and approved. I look forward to debating the bill on the House floor this summer."
Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) echoed the bi-partisan message. "I’m pleased the Committee was able to work together, find some common ground, and advance a five-year farm bill today,” he said. “I’m optimistic the farm bill will continue through regular order and be brought to the House floor in June. If we can stay on track, I think we should be able to conference with the Senate in July and have a new five-year farm bill in place before the August recess."