Tag Archives: Farm Bill

WASHINGTON (DTN) — House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, said at a forum Tuesday that the House vote on going to conference with the Senate on the farm bill will be held Wednesday or Monday.

Conaway had earlier said he expected the vote would be Thursday, but at an event sponsored by Axios, he said the date has to be changed because House Agriculture ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., cannot be present on Thursday.

He noted the vote is necessary because the Senate stripped the House language out of the bill numbered H.R. 2 and inserted its own bill. Through the motion, the House will object to that and ask for a conference.

Conaway vigorously defended the House bill’s nutrition title that would impose work requirements on beneficiaries of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and tighten up eligibility requirements.

The Senate bill does not contain those provisions. The Senate bill passed 86 to 11, while the House bill passed 213 to 211 with only Republican votes. Conaway joked that he got twice as many votes as he needed since the bill passed by two votes rather than one.

Conaway said he does not understand why he is getting so much pushback against the SNAP provision that would require beneficiaries to work 20 hours per week. If he brings up the 20-hour work requirement with farmers and ranchers, they say they work three times that much.

Moderator Mike Allen asked Conaway to respond to a statement by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., that the work requirement is “cruel and destructive,” but Conaway said he could not “get myself into their head.”

There are 10 million able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 59 who get SNAP benefits but do not report income, Conway said. The House bill, he said, would take the benefits that would not be sent to people who should not be getting SNAP benefits and send it to the states to be used for job search or job training programs to help people “get on the ladder of success.”

Critics, including Peterson, have said the work requirements are impractical, particularly because many low-income people work at jobs with varying hours. Critics also say hungry people will drop out of the SNAP program because the reporting requirements will be so onerous.

Conaway said he can’t understand why senators would oppose the provision when a poll has shown that 70% of Democrats and 90% of Republicans favor the requirements. Those statistics come from the Foundation for Government Accountability, a conservative group that last week praised a White House Council of Economic Advisers report that endorsed work requirements for SNAP and for housing subsidies.

Conaway said he has to get “the message” to senators and House Democrats that they will not want to be the candidates who go home and say they stopped the farm bill because work requirements for SNAP beneficiaries in the bill were too tough.

Conaway said he believes the farm bill will be passed by Sept. 30 when the current bill expires because he grew up in a desert and is an optimist. But he declined to give odds on finishing by that date.

Speaking with reporters after the Axios event, Conaway defended President Donald Trump’s actions on trade, saying that farmers want trade agreements enforced.

The retaliatory tariffs that China plans to impose on U.S. farm products are “illegal,” Conaway said, but he added that “folks back home have to live” with China’s action.

Conaway said he has not been given any timeline about assistance to farmers to counter the effects of the trade disputes, but is going to a meeting at the White House this week and believes that the meeting will be about ways to protect farmers from the impact of the retaliatory tariffs.

Senator Pat Roberts points out that the U.S. House has the next move on the farm bill. The Senate Agriculture Committee chairman told a group of veteran farmers this week that the farm bill conference should begin “soon,” according to the Hagstrom Report.

However, Roberts says the House must make the next move by rejecting the Senate version of the bill and asking to move forward to the conference effort. A spokesperson from House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway’s office said there is no plan yet on when to send the bill back to the Senate, but says staff from the Senate and House agriculture committees are working to figure out how to “handle the mechanics” of the conference committee.

Even if the conference does not begin until after the August recess, “the goal remains getting a farm bill done on time,” according to Conaway’s office. An on-time bill means lawmakers must send the bill to President Trump before September 30th.

The Kansas Corn Growers Association was pleased to see all four Kansas representatives voting in favor of H.R.2, the Farm Bill on Thursday.  KCGA was disappointed in mid-May when the House failed to pass the Farm Bill. Today’s passage is a key step toward passage of a new farm bill, according to Kansas Corn Growers Association President Ken McCauley, White Cloud.

“It took a couple of tries, but this is a big step toward passing a farm bill this summer, and our congressional delegation helped to make it happen, especially Congressman Marshall who serves on the House Ag Committee,” McCauley said. “Our farmers need the stability and certainty that passage of the Farm Bill would offer, especially in these uncertain times in agriculture. We hope for quick passage of the Senate version of the farm bill so a conference committee can put together a final bill that’s acceptable to farmers and can pass both the House and Senate before it expires in September.”

KCGA’s top priorities in the 2018 Farm Bill is to protect and preserve a strong and viable crop insurance program as well as the safety net programs which are important to farmers, especially at a time when the farm economy is experiencing a major downturn.

 

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition urges Senate to reject nearly $1 billion in farm bill cuts

Washington, DC, – The rescissions package being considered by the Senate this week would pull the rug out from under struggling farmers and ranchers, handicapping their ability to tap new markets, grow rural jobs, and conserve soil, water, and other resources on their land. The package would cut $657 million from farm bill conservation programs and $15 million from the Value Added Producer Grants program, which catalyzes entrepreneurship and job growth in food producing communities. Furthermore, the bill undermines the authority of the Senate Agriculture Committee, which is actively working to reauthorize the farm bill.

The decision to approve or reject the rescissions package comes before the Senate just one week before it will likely to vote on the draft farm bill, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) urges the Senate to defend the farm bill process and America’s farmers and ranchers by voting no on H.R.3, the Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act.

The rescissions package being considered this week would:

  • Cut $157 million from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) on top of $1.5 billion in cuts already made by the Senate Agriculture Committee’s farm bill. EQIP is a cornerstone working lands conservation program, which provides financial and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to implement conservation activities on their land in production. If the EQIP rescission is passed, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will be prevented from signing more than 600 EQIP producer contracts.
  • Claw back $335 million from the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), for which the Senate Agriculture Committee decided last week to increase funding by $1.5 billion. Rescinded funds that would otherwise be used to service existing easement contracts would have to be replaced by current easement funds; as a result, approximately 490 ACEP easements would not be made. ACEP provides support to private landowners, land trusts, and other entities to preserve agricultural lands, grasslands, and wetlands.
  • Eliminate $15 million from the Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) program, which bolsters rural entrepreneurship and economic activity by helping family farmers grow and diversify their businesses. For past last five months, USDA Rural Development has been reviewing, ranking, and scoring hundreds of VAPG applications, but the rescissions package would stop that award process in its tracks.

American farmers and food-producing communities rely on farm bill funding to keep our food system vibrant and strong; the rescissions package would undermine the authority, spirit, and vital support of this important bill. A vote for the rescissions package is a vote against the farm bill, and against our nation’s farmers and ranchers, we therefore urge the Senate to oppose the Spending Cuts to Expired and Unnecessary Programs Act.

House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson of Minnesota welcomed farm bill text released by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry last week. In a statement on the eve of Committee markup, Peterson applauded the Senate for its bipartisan approach and expressed hope that the House would bring a similarly bipartisan bill to conference:

“What the Senate has put together reflects great work by Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow to set partisan goals aside and focus on a bill that addresses the issues we’ve heard about throughout this farm bill process. Pat and Debbie had a tough job considering the tight limits on the money they could use to write a new bill. They put a bill together that avoids poison pills, stays away from ideology on SNAP, and most importantly, should be able to get the votes to pass their chamber.

“I will support the certain things I can get behind in the Senate bill once we get to conference. Frankly, I’d like to be able to vote for a House bill. But right now, the Majority’s language can only get Republican votes. That doesn’t stack up to the bipartisan proposal that our Senate colleagues have put together, so we should come back to the drawing board and match their effort. My staff and I are available and eager to engage. That’s how we can get a product we know can become law and give our farmers and consumers the certainty they need.”