House Ag Starts Pushing Through Farm Bill Amendments
Before the House Ag Committee got to work on its version of the farm bill - more than 100 amendments had been filed. Committee members rejected an amendment to eliminate the dairy market stabilization program in favor of a margin insurance program. Chairman Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson both voted against the amendment that was rejected 29 to 17. It was opposed by the National Milk Producers Federation - but supported by the International Dairy Foods Association.
The Committee also voted to reject the sugar program change proposed by Virginia's Bob Goodlatte. His amendment would have rolled back changes made in the 2008 farm bill. Peterson urged his colleagues to oppose the amendment - stating that rolling back the sugar support price made no sense when the bill raises target prices on other commodities. Lucas also encouraged members to vote no - noting the sugar program does not have an impact on the federal budget. The amendment was defeated 36 to 10.
Committee members did approve - on voice vote - an amendment that requires the Secretary of Agriculture to conduct a workload assessment and provide it to the public before closing a Farm Service Agency county office. The amendment was opposed by Lucas and Peterson. Chairman Lucas argued it would complicate the efforts to trim USDA's budget.
An amendment to the Conservation title related to Environmental Quality Incentives Program innovation grants was rejected. The amendment was offered by California's Jim Costa.
In the area of trade - the committee voted in favor of an amendment to establish a USDA Under Secretary for Foreign Agricultural Services. The amendment from Florida's Tim Rooney and California's Dennis Cardoza was similar to an amendment adopted by the Senate.
Despite all of the farm bill amendments filed - Lucas was able to close the commodity, conservation and trade titles of the measure by early afternoon. Then it was on to the Nutrition title.
The committee rejected an effort to eliminate the 16.5-billion dollar cut to food stamps - as well as an effort to cut food stamps by just 4.5-billion dollars - the same as the cut approved by the Senate. Additional amendments related to food stamp qualification, verification and benefits were approved by voice vote.
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