Will We See a Farm Bill?
Will Congress pass a farm bill this year – and does it matter?
Illinois Farm Bureau President Phillip Nelson says the industry would be better off with new farm legislation in place. “I still believe if we can address the food and nutrition program at some level, which I think is gonna be difficult, if we can keep crop insurance whole, we streamline the conservations from 23 to 13 to make those more efficient, I think you’re still better off to have a farm bill,” Nelson said today (Monday) in a news conference at the Illinois Farm Bureau convention in Chicago.
The matter is in the hands of a conference committee in Washington, which reported progress last week.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, has been a sticking point. The Senate agreed to extend the program for five years with a $3.9 billion cut over 10 years. The House bill extends the program for three years and would chop $39 billion over the next decade. Those differences must be reconciled.
The Illinois Farm Bureau opposes an amendment attached by Sen. Dick Durbin that would reduce crop insurance premium subsidies for producers with incomes over $750,000. This was part of a 2012 farm bill that passed in the Senate, but was not part of the 2013 attempt until Durbin won a floor vote to add it. Both the Senate and House call for increases in crop insurance subsidies but at different funding levels — the House at $8.9 billion and the Senate at $5 billion.
Extending mandatory programs in the 2008 Farm Bill would cost $973 billion over the next 10 years. The Senate-passed 2013 bill would reduce that baseline by $17.9 billion (1.8 percent) compared to $51.9 billion (5.3 percent) in the House-passed bills over that same period, according to the Congressional Budget Office.