House Agriculture Committee Releases Draft Farm Bill; Mark-Up Scheduled for July 11

Posted on: July 9th, 2012 by NADO Admin

On July 5, the House Agriculture Committee released a draft farm bill, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM), a five-year measure that would amend and extend a number of major programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), including those addressing farm income support, food and nutrition, land conservation, trade promotion, rural development, research, forestry, energy, horticulture, and crop insurance, through fiscal year 2017. Committee leaders hope to mark up the bipartisan package next week (on July 11) and move it to the floor ahead of the Sept. 30 expiration of the current five-year farm bill (which was passed in 2008).

Like the Senate bill, the House draft legislation (FARRM) repeals or consolidates more than 100 programs.  According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the House draft would cut mandatory spending by approximately $35 billion from fiscal 2013 to 2022, which is $12 billion more than the CBO score for the committee-approved Senate bill (S. 3240). The Senate passed its bill on June 21.

The majority of savings from FARRM ($16.1 billion) would come from cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (formerly food stamps). An estimated $23.6 billion in savings from changes to commodity programs would be offset by an increase of $9.5 billion in spending on crop insurance, providing a net savings of approximately $14 billion. Much of the remaining savings (about $6 billion) would come from consolidating 23 conservation programs into 13.

Under the Rural Development title (Title VI of FARRM), 14 programs are eliminated and funding levels are reduced by more than $1.5 billion over five years, a 50 percent reduction in authorizations. In addition, the draft House bill includes only $50 million in mandatory funding, approximately $100 million below current levels.

In comparison, the final Senate bill (S. 3240) provided $150 million in mandatory funding divided among four Rural Development programs:

  • Value-Added Producer Grant Program (http://www NULL.rurdev NULL.usda NULL.gov/BCP_VAPG_Grants NULL.html)  (Provides $50 million)
  • Rural Micro-entrepreneur Assistance Program (http://www NULL.rurdev NULL.usda NULL.gov/BCP_RMAP NULL.html) (Provides $15 million)
  • Water/Wastewater Backlog (http://www NULL.rurdev NULL.usda NULL.gov/UWEP_HomePage NULL.html) (Provides $50 million)
  • Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (http://www NULL.nifa NULL.usda NULL.gov/fo/beginningfarmerandrancher NULL.cfm) (Provides an additional $35 million, bringing total BFRDP funding to $85 million)

The House draft measure reauthorizes the Intermediary Relending Program, the Rural Micro-entrepreneur Assistance Program, the Broadband Loan Program, the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program, Rural Cooperative Development Grants, several community facilities loans and grants, and several Water and Wastewater Programs including the Water, Waste Disposal and Wastewater Facility Grants, the Circuit Rider Program, Imminent Community Water Assistance Grants, and grants to finance individual wells.  The draft also provides $50 million in mandatory funding for Value-Added Producer grants.

In addition, the draft requires USDA to develop simplified application forms wherever practical for rural development programs to reduce administrative burdens and make the programs more accessible to small, rural communities. The draft also directs USDA to update a previous study on rural transportation issues to provide policy makers with current data on the state of transportation systems which move commodities and processed goods throughout rural America.

Moving forward, NADO continues to work with committee staff on both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, and with over 100 other organizations as part of the Campaign for a Renewed Rural Development to ensure that strategic investments continue to be made in rural America.  Click here to view a coalition letter signed by NADO which applauds House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) for their leadership in moving the bill forward, but asks them to correct several issues in the Rural Development title of the bill.

Resources:

  • Click here (http://agriculture NULL.house NULL.gov/pdf/legislation/FARRMDiscussionDraft NULL.pdf) to view a draft of the House Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM)
  • A committee summary of FARRM can be found here (http://agriculture NULL.house NULL.gov/pdf/FARRM_Summary NULL.pdf)
  • Click here to view a letter from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas on the estimated spending effects of FARRM
  • For additional information on the House Agriculture Committee markup scheduled for July 11, click here (http://agriculture NULL.house NULL.gov/hearings/markupDetails NULL.aspx?NewsID=1593)
  • For more information on the Senate farm bill (S. 3240), including bill text and Senate Agriculture Committee summaries, click here
  • On June 6, NADO and 185 other organizations, as part of the Campaign for a Renewed Rural Development, sent a letter to the Senate requesting increased investment in rural development. To view the letter click here
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