Farm Bill Now In The Hands Of Rep. Boehner

The farm bill ball is in House Speaker John Boehner’s court following House Agriculture Committee approval of its version of new farm and food policy legislation early Thursday morning.

After a marathon mark-up ending just before 1 a.m., Committee Members voted 35 to 11 to favorably report the bill, officially known as H.R. 6083 or the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2012 (FARRM).

The bill would reauthorize a broad swath of federal food and farm programs, including the farm safety net and crop insurance; conservation, research and market development programs; regulatory clarifications related to pesticide application permitting; and domestic and international food programs. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) confirmed the bill would reduce spending by $35 billion over 10 years, including $14 billion from Title I, the highest proportion of any title.

Still, the bill has proved controversial primarily due to cuts to food stamps, now known as SNAP, and dairy program changes.

As of Thursday afternoon, Boehner, who as Speaker maintains almost complete control over what is considered or not in the full House, declined to say whether the farm bill would come before the House in the current work period and expressed concerns about some of its provisions.

Getting the bill passed quickly is the top priority for most agriculture groups and many agriculture leaders in Congress. If the House’s bill is not approved before August recess begins, it will be almost impossible to finalize a new farm bill before the current law expires on September 30, requiring an extension and pushing the farm bill debate into the post-election period.

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