Farm Bill Deal Reached, House May Vote as Early as Next Week

The four principal House and Senate farm bill conferees, Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) 52%Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) 34%Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) 5%, and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) 30%, have reached a deal on the legislation, one that “bridges the biggest gaps” between the House and Senate versions.  Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) announced Thursday that a vote on the farm bill conference report would come as soon as next week.  Alternatively, the house may pass a one-month extension of existing programs.

There has been a long-running dispute between the House and Senate on the basis for subsidies to farmers – either a farmer’s base acres or on the actual crops a farmer planted.  The agreement allows farmers to choose which type of subsidies they will receive, which more closely resembles what the House bill offers.

The Heritage Foundation has identified myriad flaws with both the House and Senate farm bills, which means a combination of the two will most likely be unsatisfactory and harmful to taxpayers and consumers.

One of the most substantial problems is the union of food stamps and farm policies.  The unholy alliance of these two separate issues prevents real reform from taking place.

Moreover, the bill will be extremely costly, because neither the food stamp program nor the agricultural programs have been sufficiently reformed.  The $80 billion food stamp would be cut by a mere 1 percent in the Senate bill and a mere 5 percent in the House bill.

There are a number of egregious farm programs embedded in the bills as well, and therefore may comprise part of the compromise.  For example, the new shallow-loss and target price programs would leave taxpayers on the hook for a hefty bill if commodity prices collapse while wealthy farmers would enjoy “almost unlimited protection.”

Regarding some of the subsidies for farmers that will be paid out on base acre calculations, Rep. Peterson said (sub. req’d), “I think it’s a really bad idea because we’re paying people that aren’t’t doing anything.”



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