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Farm Bill

Agricultural Act of 2014

President Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014 (pdf) on February 7, 2014. (Note: This is a large pdf file.)

USDA-NRCS Guide to Farm Bill Conservation Programs (pdf) and on the USDA-NRCS website.

 

The Farm Bill (identified in the U.S. House of Representatives as the "Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013’’ and in the U.S. Senate as the "Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013’’) provides federal program funding for supporting agricultural research, horticulture & livestock, resource conservation, nutrition, commodity crops and other related programs.  

The bill is reviewed and reauthorized approximately every five years.  Conservation and farm programs had operated under the 2008 Farm Bill, which expired on September 30, 2012. A list of farm bill programs is available at http://sustainableagriculture.net/publications/grassrootsguide/farm-bill-programs-and-grants/ .

House Bill H.R. 1947                     Senate Bill S. 954

(House and Senate Bills do not include amendments. Agricultural Act of 2014 is the final version of the bill signed by the President on February 7, 2014)

Update on legislation

February 7, 2014 - President Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014. (Note: This is a large pdf file.)

February 4, 2014 - The Senate approved the farm bill by a vote of 68-32. The measure now goes to President Obama for his signature. It is expected that the President will sign the bill as passed by the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.

January 29, 2014 - The House of Representatives passed the Farm Bill on a vote of 251 to 166. The bill now must be passed by the Senate, which could consider the bill this week.

January 28, 2014 - Agreement reached by House and Senate Negotiators. The House and Senate Agriculture committees have agreed to a compromise Farm Bill that would cost almost $100 billion a year over five years, a cut of around $2.3 billion a year overall from the current spending. Both the full House and the Senate still need to approve the bill.

December 17, 2013 - Farm Bill extension. The House passed a short-term extension of the Farm Bill through January 31, 2014, and is now on recess until January. The Senate  will not take up the one-month extension, as Leader Reid and Chairwoman Stabenow have both stated that an extension is not necessary because they expect a long-term deal in early January. The four principals are expected to spend some time during the recess finalizing details of the agreement.

December 11, 2013 - Principal farm bill players announced this week that Congress will not pass a farm bill before early next year. They believe it would be impossible to have a full bill ready before the House adjourns for the year on Friday. Congress will adjourn December 13 for recess, leaving a farm bill deal unfinished. But farm bill leaders say a new farm bill is on track to be picked up again and passed when policymakers return to Washington in January.

October 29, 2013 - On October 30, the first public meeting of the Senate and House conferees to consider the 2013 Farm Bill will be held on the House side of the Capitol and will feature opening statements from conferees as well as discussion of the legislation. A live webcast will be available on the Senate Agriculture Committee website.Proceedings will be simulcast live on the Senate site and on the House website.

October 28, 2013 - The National Association of Conservation Districts has outlined the association's priorities for the Farm Bill. The NACD strongly supports the passage of a five-year Farm Bill, including the following key priorities:

  • Senate language on Technical Assistance (TA) which gives decision-making authority to the Secretary of USDA for effective implementation of conservation programs.
  • Senate budget for Title II. These cuts are fair and justifiable, and we are doing our part to contribute to our nation's deficit reduction. Cuts beyond the Senate version will hurt the very viability of the programs in the Title.
  • Tying conservation compliance to crop insurance (while opposing AGI limitations or premium assistance reductions to crop insurance) as part of our broad coalition agreement.
  • Senate's national sodsaver provision to address crop insurance disparities and preserve habitats for game species on native sod and on grasslands that producers cannot certify have ever been cropped.
  • The Forestry Title pilot program taken from the National Forest Emergency Response Act, which gives the Secretary of Agriculture authority to assign relief to our National Forests decimated by insect infestation, drought, disease, and storm damage.

You can read NACD President Earl Garber's letter to Farm Bill Conferees here.

October 12, 2013 - House names conferees for Farm Bill. Republicans named Rep. Steve Southerland (Fla.) as a conferee to represent GOP leadership. The Agriculture Committee GOP conferees are Chairman Frank Lucas (Okla.), and Reps. Steve King (Iowa), Randy Neugebauer (Texas), Mike Rogers (Ala.), Michael Conaway (Texas), Glenn Thompson (Pa.), Austin Scott (Ga.), Rick Crawford (Ark.), Martha Roby (Ala.), Kristi Noem (S.D.), Jeff Denham (Calif.) and Rodney Davis (Ill.). The House Foreign Affairs Committee will be represented by Chairman Ed Royce (Calif.) and Rep. Tom Marino (Pa.), and the Ways & Means Committee will be represented by Chairman Dave Camp (Mich.) and Rep. Sam Johnson (Texas). Democrats named Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), Agriculture Committee ranking member Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.),  as well as Reps. Mike McIntyre (N.C.), Jim Costa (Calif.), Tim Walz (Minn.), Kurt Schrader (Ore.), Jim McGovern (Mass.), Suzan DelBene (Wash.), Gloria Negrete McLeod (Calif.), Filemon Vela (Texas); Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Eliot Engel (N.Y.), and Ways and Means Committee Sandy Levin (Mich.).

October 1, 2013 -  The University of Missouri Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institiute has issued a summary analysis of selected crop program provisions of farm bills approved by the U.S. House and Senate. FAPRI-MU Report #06-13 (32 pages, 537 kb).

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) requested a conference committee with the House to resolve differences between the chambers’ farm bills. Reid named seven Democratic conferees and five Republicans, all of who serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee:  Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Max Baucus (D-Mont.) Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), John Boozman (R-Ark.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.).

September 19, 2013 - House passes Farm Bill. The House of Representatives passed a Farm Bill package that clears the way for the House and Senate to appoint members to a conference committee that will negotiate a unified farm bill. Significant differences in nutrition assistance funding remains a major sticking point in those discussions. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the House plan would cut spending by $39 billion over 10 years. The current bill passed by the Senate would cut only $4 billion. Some news reports indicate that while the current farm bill extension expires on September 30, the real deadline is the end of the year when permanent farm legislation passed in the 1940s would take hold, possibly doubling the price of milk.

August 28, 2013. - The University of Georgia has summarized the current status of the Farm Bill, which you can read here.

August 23, 2013 - The Wall Street Journal is reporting that, “House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday GOP leaders were crafting a strategy that could avert a September showdown with Democrats over government funding levels by deferring the toughest budget issues to later in the fall, when lawmakers face a deadline to raise the debt ceiling.” This may include a deferral of the Farm Bill until later in the fall.

August 7, 2013 - The U.S. Senate has named its members to the Farm Bill Conference with the House, and the Senate list includes Sen. Saxby Chambliss. Senate Farm Bill Conferees have been named as follows: Democrats Debbie Stabenow, Mich., Patrick Leahy, Vt., Tom Harkin, Iowa, Max Baucus, Mont., Sherrod Brown, Ohio, Amy Klobuchar, Minn., and Michael Bennet, Colo. The Republican members will be Thad Cochran, Miss., Pat Roberts, Kan., Saxby Chambliss, Ga., John Boozman, Ark., and John Hoeven, N.D. The House of Representatives adjourned for the August recess (which ends on September 9) without naming Conferees.

August 3, 2013 - Congress began its summer recess without passing a new farm bill. Both houses of Congress have passed their versions of the bill. On June 10, the United States Senate voted to pass the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013, better known as the 2013 Farm Bill. On July 11, House lawmakers approved a scaled-back version of the farm bill after stripping out the popular food-stamp program used by 48 million Americans. The bill narrowly passed on a 216-208 vote, largely along party lines. A dozen Republicans voted against the measure while no Democrats voted in favor. The House and Senate bills now need to be reconciled and be voted on by both houses, which cannot happen until Congress returns to session on Sept. 9. The current farm bill extension expires on Sept. 30.

June 20, 2013 - The U.S. House of Representatives failed to pass the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013. After the 2012 Farm Bill failed to pass, a continuing resolution was passed, which is scheduled to expire on September 30, 2013. Several members of the House and Senate have vowed not to allow a temporary continuation of the current legislation for another year.

June 10, 2013 - On a 66 to 27 vote, the United States Senate voted to pass the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013, better known as the 2013 Farm Bill. The Senate bill would require policyholders to comply with conservation rules as a condition for receiving federally subsidized crop insurance.The focus now shifts to the House of Representatives, where work is reportedly scheduled to begin next week.

May 20, 2013 - The full Senate began consideration of the 2013 Farm Bill.

May 15, 2013 - The House Agriculture Committee Wednesday passed their version of the 2013 Farm Bill, leaving the bill largely intact through 10 hours of debate. Chairman Frank Lucas began the session at 10 a.m. Eastern, and was able to move through the first four titles and some of the fifth before adjourning briefly at 3 p.m.  The Committee returned at 6:30 p.m. Eastern to resume debate, which continued until 11:45 p.m. Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., offered amendment 76, the Organic Promotion Order, to allow for the creation of a checkoff program in the future for organic products.  Though the amendment faced considerable opposition, it was eventually approved by a vote of 29-17.

May 14, 2013 - The Senate Agricultural Committee voted 15-5 to approve the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013. The bill passed with almost no changes and is expected to move to the Senate floor next week.

May 9, 2013 - Farm Bill markup scheduled. Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, announced the committee markup of the 2013 Farm Bill will take place Tuesday, May 14 at 10 a.m. The House Agriculture Committee’s markup of the farm bill is planned for the following day on Wednesday, May 15.

April 10, 2013 - President Obama sent to Congress his proposed FY2014 budget. In its FY2014 Budget Summary, USDA reports that the President’s proposal “…reflects a number of legislative proposals that produce savings to reduce the deficit while maintaining a strong safety net for American agriculture. The proposed legislation would reduce the deficit by $38 billion over ten years compared to current baseline spending. The savings would result from eliminating direct farm payments, decreasing subsidies to crop insurance companies and producers, and better targeting conservation funding to high priority areas. The legislation also proposes to extend some disaster assistance programs for the 2014 through the 2018 crops and provides additional support to dairy farmers through expansion of the dairy gross margin insurance program. The Administration remains strongly committed to programs that create jobs, expand markets for existing products, and help develop the next generation of farmers and ranchers. To accomplish these goals the budget proposes an additional $1.3 billion for renewable energy, organic agriculture, specialty crops, and beginning farmers.” The entire USDA proposed budget document is available at http://www.obpa.usda.gov/budsum/FY14budsum.pdf.

Reports in the media say that the budget proposal would eliminate $37.8 billion dollars in farm subsidies, eliminating the direct payment subsidy program and reducing crop insurance subsidies. The Senate-passed farm bill last year eliminated direct payments - no vote was taken on a farm bill in the House. 
 

March 1, 2013 – In crafting a new Farm Bill, legislators will be considering the new cost saving estimates released by the Congressional Budget Office, which released new estimates of the promised savings from House and Senate proposals made last summer. The CBO estimates that the Senate-passed farm bill will save only $13.1 billion over 10 years, compared with a promised $23.1 billion last July. The House Agriculture Committee plan, which never made it to the floor, fares better but comes down as well from $35.1 billion to $26.6 billion in 10 year savings. Crop insurance remains high on the list of programs that groups want to protect.

January 24, 2013 – On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has stated that he would make a new farm law a priority. Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow has said she is committed to convening a Committee mark up as soon as possible, to produce an updated version of the Farm Bill, which could then be substituted for Majority Leader Reid's placeholder bill. The House Agriculture Committee has not set a date yet to begin work on a new bill.

On January 1, 2013, Congress voted to extend parts of the expired 2008 farm bill through September.The farm bill deal came hours after an apparent deal between House and Senate agricultural leaders that would have extended the entire 2008 farm bill for a year. That broader proposal fell to the wayside during negotiations to reach a deal on the fiscal cliff. The farm bill process will restart when the new Congress is sworn in, and lawmakers and the farm industry will have nine months to put together a long-term plan before the new September 30, 2013, deadline.

On January 2, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued the following statement on the Food, Farm and Jobs Bill:

"I am pleased that Congress passed needed middle class tax relief and continued unemployment insurance protection for 2 million unemployed Americans. However, while I am relieved that the agreement reached prevents a spike in the price of dairy and other commodities, I am disappointed Congress has been unable to pass a multi-year reauthorization of the Food, Farm and Jobs bill to give rural America the long-term certainty they need and deserve. I will continue to work with Congress to encourage passage of a reauthorized bill that includes a strong and defensible safety net for producers, expanded rural economic opportunity in the new bio-based economy, significant support for conserving our natural resources, increased commitment to important research, and support for safe and nutritious food for all Americans. I look forward to continuing the effort to get this critical work done."

Your opportunity

Georgia's citizens have a window of opportunity to influence the future of food and farming in the statel.  If you participate in farm bill funded programs or encourage the opportunities provided to agricultural producers through this important legislation, take a minute to contact your Congressional representatives and voice your support:

U.S. House of Representatives

U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson   

Farm Bill Facts

Almost 80 percent of spending authorized by the federal farm bill is directed to nutrition programs, including food stamps and WIC

Debt and deficits (on the national and local level) will have an unprecedented impact on the new farm bill budget; this may mean cuts directed toward conservation programs

U.S. agricultural policy is currently taking a hard look at existing ag programs and legislation to see if they are accomplishing desired objectives; over time, farm legislation has evolved to include a wide array of issues besides production agriculture and related markets

What's Going on in Washington with the Farm Bill?

January 1, 2013 - Congress voted to extend parts of the expired 2008 farm bill through September.The farm bill deal came hours after an apparent deal between House and Senate agricultural leaders that would have extended the entire 2008 farm bill for a year. That broader proposal fell to the wayside during negotiations to reach a deal on the fiscal cliff.

July 12, 2012 - The House Agriculture Committee approved H.R. 6083, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2012 by a vote of 35-11.

June 21, 2012 - The Senate passes the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act which reauthorizes the Farm Bill, set to expire on September 30th.  This new bill includes historic commodity payment limit reforms and renews investment in sustainable food and farm programs.  Conservation programs on working farms and ranches are cut by $3.7 billion. 

 

So What's Next?

Check out the website links below to keep up-to-date on developments surrounding the Farm Bill.

www.ag.senate.gov

www.agriculture.house.gov