Congressional Committees Approve Separate Farm Bills, Ag Organizations Respond


The House and Senate agriculture committees have each approved new legislation for an extended farm bill to be debated further on each chamber floor.

The House approved its bill on Wednesday with a 36-10 vote, a day after the Senate pushed its bill on with a 15-5 vote.

The American Soybean Association applauds both bills, urging for the full Senate and House to pass the legislation allowing for a new long-term farm bill to be crafted, which has failed to occur the last few years.

"The [Senate] committee's farm bill providescontinued planting flexibility, reinforces crop insurance, protects our naturalresources, authorizes and funds vital trade, research and education programs,and feeds our nation's hungry, all while addressing our nation's budget needsby reducing spending by $23 billion, including elimination of direct paymentsand duplication of conservation programs. This is a responsible bill and onethat the Senate should pass without delay," shared ASA President Danny Murphy.

He added that the House bill is a great step forward, though the association would like to see some changes made before final approval.

Murphy said, "The House bill contains several key ASA priorities including provisions to strengthen crop insurance and continue our overseas marketing programs. We remain concerned with the bill's inclusion of a price-based program under which payments are tied to current plantings, and the potential planting distortions this program could cause if market prices fall. That said, we believe these differences can be ironed out, either on the House floor or in conference with the Senate."

The National Association of Wheat Growers also showed excitement about the possibility of the passage of a new farm bill. Bing Von Bergen, NAWG president, said in a statement Wednesday, "The leaders of the National Association of Wheat Growers and the farmers we represent across the country are excited and grateful for the House and Senate Agriculture Committees' passage of farm bill legislation over the last two days."

"This farm bill has been a long time coming," continued Von Bergen. "The bills approved by both committees are solid products crafted through discussion, debate and significant work on the parts of members who know the importance of agriculture, the leaders of the ag committees and their dedicated staff."

Though many expressed excitement about seeing legislation moving forward towards a final farm bill, not everyone found favor with the current proposals. Sen. Mike Johanns voted against advancing his committee's bill.

He said about the legislation, "Just last year, we were able tocome together in the Senate to pass a good bill that moved farm policy awayfrom income support and towards risk management. While this bill containssome of those reforms, it represents a significant step backward for ag policyand reduces farm bill spending by just 1.5 percent."

Johanns said the bill that was passed on Tuesday does not do enough to save money, while taking a step back towards the 1980s. He is calling for a bill that would "promote free market principles and save taxpayer dollars."

Meanwhile, Rep. Adrian Smith says he is ready to look more closely at the House proposal and begin the process to pass a responsible long-term farm bill. He said, "Given the importance of farm policy to ouragriculture economy, it is critical we not only pass a bill, but also to ensurewe get the policy right."