With the Agriculture Act of 2014, the Farm Bill, headed to the Senate for final consideration, the 950-page bill is, as expected, drawing mixed reaction among lawmakers and agricultural industry stakeholders. The House passed the conference report by a margin of 251-166, and it is expected the Senate will soon pass the legislation and that President Obama will sign it into law.
After working through contentious policy issues ranging from commodity subsidy programs, nutrition assistance and dairy programs, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) said the final product fulfills expectations set by the American people. Agricultural organizations from the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union, and many commodity specific trade organizations were also quick to praise the House passage of the bill.
“They expect us to work together to find ways to reduce the cost of the federal government,” said Lucas. “The Agricultural Act contributes major savings to deficit reduction, significant reforms to policy, and yet still provides a safety net not only for the production of American food and fiber, but also to ensure our fellow citizens have enough food to eat.”
According to a news release from Lucas’ office, the bill achieves reforms in the following areas:
- Repeals Direct Payments and limits producers to risk management tools that offer protection when they suffer significant losses.
- Strengthens crop insurance, a successful public/private partnership that ensures farmers invest in their own risk management.
- Provides historic reforms to dairy policy by repealing outdated and ineffective dairy programs. Offers producers a new, voluntary, margin protection program without imposing government-mandated supply controls.
- Establishes a 10-state food stamp pilot to empower states to engage able-bodied adults in mandatory work programs.
- Ensures illegal immigrants, lottery winners, traditional college students, and the deceased do not receive food stamp benefits.
- Consolidates 23 duplicative and overlapping conservation programs into 13.
- Creates a permanent subcommittee within the EPA Science Advisory Board to conduct peer review of EPA actions that would negatively impact agriculture.
- Enhances coordination between USDA and the U.S. FWS regarding actions taken to manage the lesser prairie chicken.