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

Amanda Knox prepares to leave the set following a television interview on Jan. 31, 2014.

Italy’s Highest Court Overturns Amanda Knox Conviction

The decision puts an end to a story that began in 2009 when Knox was found guilty of murdering 21-year-old Meredith Kirchner two years earlier.


Thai Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha attending the East Asia summit plenary session at Myanmar International Convention Center in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, in November.

Thai Ruler Says He’s Prepared To End Martial Law

Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, who seized power last May, says he will lift martial law and replace it with a constitutional provision that gives him the very same powers.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to supporters following the country's March 17 election. After a bruising campaign in which he faced considerable criticism, Netanyahu has taken a number of steps to try to ease tensions.

After A Tough Election, Israel’s Netanyahu Looks To Ease Tensions

The Israeli leader ruffled feathers during the bruising campaign. Since then, he has sought to make amends. In the latest move, Israel is handing over money it had withheld from the Palestinians.


Carlos Varela, a Cuban protest singer, poses for a picture at the bar of the historic Hotel Nacional in Havana.

LISTEN: A Cuban Protest Singer On The State Of U.S.-Cuba Relations

For decades, Carlos Varela has doled out incisive criticism of the Cuban government. On our recent visit to Havana, he sang a song he says reflects the mood of the country at this historic moment.


Writers lowered the boom on the broom — metaphorically, of course.

App That Aims To Make Books ‘Squeaky Clean’ Draws Ire From Edited Writers

Clean Reader — an app designed to find, block and replace profanity in books — has drawn considerable criticism from authors. This week, makers of the app announced they would no longer sell e-books.


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
Underwriting Payments