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House Farm Bill process underway

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Source: Special edition of Northeast Dairy Farmers Cooperatives newsletter, June 19, from editor Bob Gray

 

Tuesday night (June 18) at about 11:30 p.m., the House Rules Committee approved a “structured rule” for consideration of the House Farm Bill, H.R. 1947 – the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (FARRM). House members had filed 225 amendments to the Farm Bill. The House Rules Committee approved 103 of these amendments for consideration.

The structured rule does not allow for general debate on the amendments, but gives 10 minutes (5 minutes equally divided to each side) to present their amendment. In a few cases 20 minutes are allowed in total for the proponents and opponents of the various amendments.

In some cases several amendments will be packaged in an “en bloc” amendment. The House will start consideration of the Farm Bill this afternoon (June 19) and continue on into tomorrow. The plan by House leadership was to complete action on the Farm Bill by 3 p.m. tomorrow (June 20). That may be too ambitious given the number of amendments that been approved to be offered and the number of roll call votes on individual amendments. So the bill could continue on into next week given the number of amendments in play.

 

VOTE COUNT FOR FINAL PASSAGE BEST CHARACTERIZED AS FLUID: It takes 218 yes votes to obtain a majority for final passage of the Farm Bill. At this point the vote count for final passage is murky at best. It is estimated that at least 175 to 180 Republican votes are needed for final passage and at least 40 Democratic votes.

The final vote count will largely depend on amendments to the bill, which in some cases, if passed, could swing the vote either way.

The SNAP (food stamp) program remains as the most volatile issue. If the currents cuts in the bill of $20.5 billion are reduced, the number of Republicans voting for the bill will be reduced. Many Democrats cannot support the bill as is due to the cuts in SNAP. So it will come right down to the wire.

We will keep you posted every step of the way.

 

DAIRY AMENDMENTS: The most significant amendment to the Dairy Title is #194 which will be offered by Congressman Goodlatte (VA); Scott (GA); Collins (NY); Moran (VA); Duffy (WI); DeGette (CO); Issa (CA); Sessions (TX) and Barbara Lee (CA). It would strike the Market Stabilization Program (production management provision) and replace the Margin Protection Program (dairy insurance provision) with a new margin insurance program. The vote on this amendment is expected to be very close.

A second dairy amendment offered by Congressman Broun (GA) would repeal the 1949 Agriculture Act that established the federal price support program. This amendment is aimed at preventing a major increase in the federal price support program if the Farm Bill is not passed and no extension of current farm programs is authorized.

 

RESTORING SNAP CUTS: An amendment by Congressman Jim McGovern of Massachusetts and cosponsored by 75 other House members would restore the $20.5 billion in cuts from SNAP. The reduction in cuts of $20.5 in SNAP would be offset by taking funds from the Farm Risk Management Election Program and the Supplemental Coverage Option Program.

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