Goodlatte-Scott approved in House, but then entire Farm Bill voted down
First, House members approved the Goodlatte/Scott amendment, 291-135, as part of the House version of the 2013 Farm Bill, prompting its proponents to declare victory.
Then, the House voted down the entire House bill, 195-234, under the weight of a $20 million cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps).
What's next? Good question: Prior to the vote, House Ag Committee chair Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) said if this Farm Bill proposal failed, it might not make it to the House floor again during the current Congress.
The head of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) expressed disappointment, but noted opponents of the legislation they helped create, the Dairy Security Act, have little to celebrate.
“The decision to adopt the Goodlatte-Scott (G-S) amendment as part of the House’s farm bill is a disappointment to America’s dairy farmers who recognize this amendment for what it is: an effort to ensure that dairy processors get a government-insured supply of cheap milk,” said Jerry Kozak, NMPF president and CEO. “But the House vote against final passage of the farm bill makes the G-S vote a hollow victory for its proponents.
“We always knew we faced a difficult challenge in the more urban and suburban-oriented House, especially with House Speaker John Boehner personally committed to defeating the Dairy Security Act, Kozak said. “But we’re hopeful that the House and Senate will eventually find a way to write a compromise farm bill. When they do, we believe the agriculture conferees who develop that final bill will understand the importance of the more balanced approach to dairy policy contained in the Senate-passed farm bill.
“The House rejection of its Agriculture Committee’s dairy proposal, which included margin insurance plus market stabilization, is a fiscally reckless vote, with negative implications for the dairy producer sector, but also for the entire farm bill,” Kozak added. “By eliminating the market stabilization component, the Goodlatte-Scott amendment removed the cost control mechanism from this measure, greatly increasing government and taxpayer cost exposure.”
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), an active opponent of the Dairy Security Act, declared victory after the Goodlatte/Scott vote.
“IDFA commends the House of Representatives for voting, 291-135, to reform our dairy policies by establishing a new and expanded revenue insurance program for dairy farmers without imposing a controversial program that will have our government get into the business of limiting milk supplies, hurting consumers and costing American jobs,” said Jerry Slominski, International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) Vice President of Legislative Affairs and Economic Policy. “The momentum is now strongly against supply management for our dairy industry.”
“The Goodlatte-Scott amendment will provide an effective and expanded safety net for dairy farmers, but without adding a program that will make healthy and nutritious dairy products less affordable for our nation’s families,” he continued. “And, it will allow dairy companies, particularly dairy exporters, to continue to grow and create jobs.”
“We look forward to passage of the Farm Bill by the whole of Congress and to reforming our dairy support programs without also forcing families to pay more for dairy products or limiting our industry’s ability to capture new export markets. The entire dairy industry will be stronger as a result,” Slominski concluded.
Momentum, and a compromise bill, are now in question.
Cooperative Network expresses dismay
Cooperative Network, the trade association representing Minnesota and Wisconsin cooperative businesses, expressed its dismay that the U.S. House failed today to pass H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2013.
“While the Farm Bill certainly had flaws, it represented a bi-partisan effort of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee to put in place the structure for American agriculture over the next five years,” said Bill Oemichen, president and CEO of Cooperative Network. “Unfortunately, the House majority let perfect be the enemy of good. The failure to pass a Farm Bill means future uncertainty for one of the cornerstones of the Wisconsin and Minnesota economies.”
The House version of the Farm Bill failed on a vote of 195-234. Cooperative Network had recently joined nearly 200 other organizations in a letter to all House members urging support for the proposed five-year Farm Bill. In the letter, the cross-section of U.S. agriculture noted that the bill "achieves spending cuts that reduce the Federal budget deficit, saving taxpayers $40 billion. It also repeals or consolidates more than 100 programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture." The organizations stated that "Failure to pass a five-year farm bill before the end of September would mean continued uncertainty for farmers, ranchers and their rural communities; it would also mean that (the) American taxpayer would see none of the budget savings achieved."
In the Wisconsin delegation, Republicans Duffy, Petri, and Ribble voted in favor; Republicans Ryan and Sensenbrenner and Democrats Kind, Moore and Pocan vote against H.R. 1947.
In the Minnesota delegation, Republicans Kline and Paulsen and Democrats Peterson and Walz voted in favor; Republican Bachmann and Democrats Ellison, McCollum and Nolan voted against H.R. 1947.
Comments from John Wilson, senior vice president, Dairy Farmers of America
“Despite the agriculture community’s best effort, with a vote of 195–234 the U.S. House of Representatives failed to pass a Farm Bill today.
“Earlier in the day, the Goodlatte-Scott amendment stripped the Dairy Market Stabilization Program from the underlying bill.
“Regardless of the loss on Goodlatte-Scott, Dairy Farmers of America remained supportive of final passage of the Farm Bill to keep the momentum going on a bill that is vital to so many aspects of the American agriculture sector. Farm families across the nation rely on the provisions in the Farm Bill, and that they will continue to operate under outdated and inadequate policies is truly disappointing.
“DFA members joined farmers across the nation in voicing their support of this Farm Bill, and their engagement was instrumental in securing needed dairy policy reform in the version of the bill brought to the floor.
“Although today has been disappointing, the dairy industry has shown its resiliency in the past, and continued optimism and action is the only option as we look to the future. We express sincere thanks to all who made calls, attended meetings and sent important emails to their legislators. This participation is imperative as we look to the future and make dairy policy reform a reality.
“The dairy industry has many advocates on Capitol Hill and we owe our appreciation to those in Congress who supported our efforts. I am confident that this support will not falter as we continue our pursuit of meaningful dairy policy reform.”