Nation & World News

New Bipartisan Farm Bill Emerges From Long Debate In Congress

By Bill Chappell on January 27th, 2014

Members of the House and Senate have reached a bipartisan agreement on a five-year farm bill that will end months of uncertainty for farmers and agriculture workers, its backers say. If enacted, it would close the gap left when the previous farm bill expired late in 2013, after an emergency extension lapsed.

The Agricultural Act of 2014, which will likely come up for a vote on Wednesday, reflects the many agendas that helped to complicate its creation.

It includes measures to reduce the deficit and eliminate programs. It addresses several conservation issues, and it “maintains food assistance for families” even as it targets abuse of that program, according to identical statements released by the House and Senate Agriculture Committees late Monday.

“The agreement reached on food stamps would cut spending by $8 billion over 10 years, or about one-fifth of the $40 billion sought by House Republicans,” Bloomberg reports.

The new bill would also end a long-criticized crop subsidy program that makes direct payments to farmers, replacing it in part with an enhanced crop insurance program. Another provision would aid livestock producers who are hit by natural disasters and severe weather, such as droughts and springtime freezes.

But critics who feel those changes don’t go far enough say, “It’s moonshine by another name,” as Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group tells The Wall Street Journal.

(NPR’s Dan Charles reported for The Salt last year that an Environmental Working Group analysis of the existing crop insurance program found that the government would save itself billions of dollars if it simply took over the crop insurance program and gave away a simpler version for free.)

As speculation built that the Farm Bill would come out today, news of its possible provisions trickled out. For instance, the growth of industrial hemp would be allowed under the bill, the AP reported Friday.

In another closely watched issue, stronger animal welfare standards that were adopted in recent years by California and other states would not be outlawed by the new farm bill, despite attempts to insert an amendment to that effect.

“This is a victory for state’s rights,” Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calf., tells The Fresno Bee. Denham warned that the amendment “would have led to a race to the bottom for agriculture production laws nationwide and imperiled the fate of California egg producers.”

The Bee reports:

“The potential inclusion of the animal welfare provision, authored by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, had imperiled Californians’ support for the overall bill. King’s amendment targeted state provisions such as California’s Proposition 2, a 2008 measure that required that certain animals be able to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs while confined.”

Update at 9 p.m. ET: A Tally Of The Costs, Cuts

The total savings of the new farm bill is estimated at around $23 billion, according to a preliminary tally of the large new bill from congressional aides that NPR’s Tamara Keith has sent along.

That number is arrived at by taking $10 billion in increased expenses for things such as crop insurance and support for specialty crops and bio-energy away from the total cuts of $33 billion, which are summarized here:

  • $19 billion cut from farm subsidy programs
  • $6 billion cut by combining 23 conservation programs into 13 programs
  • $8 billion cut from food assistance programs (reportedly by reducing fraud and abuse)
Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

This entry was posted in News from NPR. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

 

More Stories in News from NPR

A Russian capsule that housed a gecko space-sex experiment. The geckos all died.

Russian Space Experiment On Gecko Sex Goes Awry

A returned space capsule was opened to reveal frozen gecko remains inside, disappointing scientists. On the bright side, the fruit flies that were aboard made it.


Cookie Monster and John Oliver anchor a special report on words.

John Oliver And Cookie Monster, On The News Beat

Just in time for the back-to-school season, funny newsman John Oliver and incorrigible consumer Cookie Monster co-anchor a news special on words.


New U.S. Rules Protect Giant Bluefin Tuna

To reduce the number of giant bluefin tuna killed by fishing fleets, the U.S. is putting out new rules about commercial fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and parts of the western Atlantic.


In this handout image made available by the photographer American journalist Steven Sotloff (left) talks to Libyan rebels on the Al Dafniya front line on June 2, 2011 in Misrata, Libya. Sotloff was kidnapped in August 2013 near Aleppo, Syria.

Islamic State Claims It Has Beheaded Second American Journalist

The Islamist militant group had threatened to kill Steven Sotloff if the U.S. continued to conduct airstrikes in Iraq. Sotloff’s mother released a video last week pleading for the release of her son.


Celebrity Photo Leak Puts Spotlight On The Cloud, And Security

Publication of private photos of Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities raises new questions about storing personal data online. Apple says its systems weren’t breached.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments