Conference Won’t Wait for Nutrition Measure
House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas has sent a memo regarding his intention to move forward with conference on the farm bill. He says the bill is something House members can be proud of - as it saves billions of dollars, eliminates over 100 government programs and provides the certainty and necessary tools for farmers, ranchers and rural America to prosper. While noting that sending the Senate a farm-only farm bill broke with tradition - Lucas said there is now a vehicle with which to put a formal process in place to send a final 2013 farm bill to the President for his signature. According to Lucas - any suggestion to the contrary is playing politics with the process and does a disservice to farmers and ranchers. Regardless of the procedural steps that must take place now that the House has formally sent H.R. 2642 to the Senate - and no matter the outcome of future House consideration of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program reform - Lucas said his opinion is that conversations can and will begin immediately to reconcile the agriculture-related titles with the Senate.
Speaking of SNAP - Lucas said he plans to meet with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and interested members of the Agriculture Committee about SNAP reform this week. Lucas is hopeful the House will consider a package of SNAP reforms in the very near future. Lucas said the Senate farm bill doesn't provide sufficient reforms to SNAP.
In addition - Lucas said the Senate farm bill fails what has been his fundamental threshold in the development of the next farm bill. He said it simply doesn't work for all commodities in all regions of the country and leaves many producers without a viable safety net - while locking in profits for others. Lucas also argued that a provision in the Senate bill that limits crop insurance premium subsidies for high-earning farmers puts the crop insurance system in jeopardy. Finally - he pointed out the Senate bill also fails to include regulatory reforms to help mitigate some of the most onerous regulatory pressure plaguing the nation's farmers, ranchers and rural communities. While Lucas admitted these will be difficult issues to overcome - he expressed confidence that by listening to producers and doing what is right - agreement could be reached and a five-year farm bill sent to the President in the coming months.
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