The House Agriculture Committee draft of a new farm bill was released late Friday (May 10). A mark-up of the legislation is set for the morning of May 15.
Read the draft here. 
Read the Senate draft here. 
"I'm pleased to release this bipartisan legislation. … It's a responsible and balanced bill that addresses Americans' concerns about federal spending and reforms farm and nutrition policy to improve efficiency and accountability. We will advance our bill in the Committee next week and then begin preparing for full House consideration this summer,"said Oklahoma Rep. Frank Lucas, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.
“The discussion draft … released today sets us on a path to finally completing a five-year farm bill,” said Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, ranking member. “It closely resembles the bipartisan bill passed by the Agriculture Committee last summer, including a common-sense commodity title that will work for all producers, much-needed reforms to dairy programs and continued support for the sugar program. The bill also builds on the investments the 2008 farm bill made to fruits and vegetables, farmers markets and local food systems. While I do believe that there are more responsible ways to reform nutrition programs, the bottom line is that this is the first step in the process and it is past time to pass a five-year farm bill.”
Nutrition programs are sure to be a sticking point once the bills reach the reconciliation phase. The Senate draft calls for food stamp cuts about a fifth of the $20 billion that Lucas wants.
The House Agriculture Committee also touted the following in the draft, saying it:
- Saves nearly $40 billion in mandatory funds, including the immediate sequestration of $6 billion.
- Repeals or consolidates more than 100 programs.
- Eliminates direct payments, which farmers received regardless of market conditions.
- Streamlines and reforms commodity policy saving nearly $14 billion while also giving producers a choice in how best to manage risk.
- Includes the first reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) since the Welfare Reform Act of 1996 saving more than $20 billion.
- Consolidates 23 conservation programs into 13, improving program delivery to producers and saving more than $6 billion.
- Builds on previous investments to fruit and vegetable production, farmers markets, and local food systems.
- Includes several regulatory relief measures to help mitigate burdens farmers, ranchers, and rural communities face.
Among agriculture groups commenting on the House draft:
- National Association of Wheat Growers
“I and my fellow wheat leaders are gratified for the progress underway in the House of Representatives toward a new, long-term farm bill,” said Bing Von Bergen, NAWG president and wheat farmer from Moccasin, Mont.
“The bill as drafted will help legislators save nearly $40 billion and produce a strong safety net for farmers during challenging production years like this one. The bill will also address priority areas of food aid, research, trade and conservation and clarify that farmers applying pesticides within the bounds of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) do not need any additional permitting.
“We encourage all members to support the effort to pass new long-term farm policy in the committee and on the House floor, and we look forward to working with the Agriculture Committee's leadership to support them throughout this process.”
- National Farmers Union
“NFU is pleased to see the House Committee on Agriculture taking action on this important piece of legislation,” said Roger Johnson, NFU president.
“I am happy to see that target price protection was included in the bill, especially target prices that are balanced and set at a meaningful level. The inclusion of stronger protection against long-term price collapse for all commodities in all regions is also a step in the right direction. The strong support for crop insurance is also a positive element for U.S. family farmers and ranchers for when natural disasters strike.
“NFU is deeply disappointed that the energy title has no mandatory funding for programs that are critical to our country’s energy independence and ending our reliance upon foreign oil.
“Just as farm safety net programs are important for farmers facing hardship, nutrition programs provide critical assistance to consumers in difficult times. I encourage the House to strongly consider a more moderate approach when reducing funding for programs that help the food insecure in this country.
“Including language to study Country-of-Origin Labeling is disheartening and unnecessaryas the World Trade Organization has already stated that the law is in compliance with our trade obligations. This unwarranted attempt to strip consumers of their right to know where their meat comes from is alarming.”