The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


House to consider farm bill amendments, possibly final passage today

The House of Representatives will meet at 9 a.m. today for debate and votes on five farm bill amendments and for votes on a series of amendments that were debated Wednesday, according to a notice posted by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

Cantor said the first votes are expected between 9:30 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. and that the last votes are expected between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Although there has been speculation that the farm bill debate would continue next week, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., told reporters late Wednesday that he hoped there could be a vote on final passage that would allow House members to depart for the week as scheduled about 3 p.m. today.

Amendments to be debated and voted on today

Sugar program — Rep. Joseph Pitts, R-Pa., and others (20 minutes of debate)
Returns raw sugar cane price support to its historic level of 18 cents per pound and establish the refined beet sugar price support at 128.5 percent of the cane rate. Amends provisions for sugar marketing allotments by repealing a provision that establishes allotments at no less than 85 percent of domestic consumption. Repeals restrictions on the secretary of Agriculture’s authority to adjust import quotas for raw and refined sugar and repeals the Feedstock Flexibility Program under which surplus sugar must be purchased by the government and re-sold to ethanol plants at a loss.

Dairy program — Rep. Goodlatte, R-Va., and others (20 minutes of debate)
Removes the dairy producer margin protection and dairy market stabilization programs and replaces them with a new Dairy Producer Margin Insurance Program. Provides dairy producers with the option to annually enroll in the new program at levels of $4 and up to $8 in increments of 50 cents.

Based on the highest annual of three previous calendar years of their milk marketings, dairy producers would also be allowed to elect their coverage level and the percentage of coverage up to 80 percent at the start of the program and annually thereafter. Dairy producers would also be allowed to update their production history annually.

The secretary of Agriculture would be required to make payments to dairy producers enrolled in the program whenever the actual dairy producer margin drops below $4, or below a higher level of coverage up to $8.

The amendment would leave the rest of the underlying dairy title intact, including the removal of the Dairy Product Price Support Program, the MILC Program, and the Dairy Export Assistance Program and the reauthorization of the 1996 FMMO additional order provision.

Payment limits — Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb. (10 minutes of debate)
Reduces farm program payment limits, capping commodity payments at $250,000 per year for any one farm. Also closes loopholes in current law to ensure payments reach working farmers, their intended recipients.
SNAP work requirements — Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., and others. (10 minutes of debate)

Creates additional work requirements for SNAP recipients and raises the total reduction in spending to $31 billion.

SNAP requirements — Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., and others. (10 minutes of debate)

Applies federal welfare work requirements to SNAP, at state option.

Votes on the following amendments were postponed until today:

Emerging markets — Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala. — Terminates funding for the Emerging Markets Program (EMP) after September 30, 2013.

SNAP / Thrifty Food Plan — Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas — Requires a 10 percent reduction in the Thrifty Food Plan calculation in any year that SNAP is not authorized.
SNAP / Personal hygiene items — Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C. — Include items for personal hygiene for household use in SNAP.

SNAP / Data on purchased items — Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa. — Directs the comptroller general to establish a pilot program to collect data on items purchased with SNAP in nine states. The comptroller general then would determine whether item-specific data purchased with SNAP benefits can be collected using existing reporting requirements, and how to improve SNAP reporting.

Health food — Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz. — Strikes the Health Food Financing Initiative.

Fisherman disaster loans — Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., and others — Allows commercial fishermen to be eligible recipients of the Emergency Disaster Loan program.

Conservation — Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif. — Allows qualified third-party, non-governmental entities to hold the conservation easements financed with Forest Legacy revenue.

Biodiesel education — Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa. — Repeals the Biodiesel Fuel Education Program, which awards federal grants to educate fleet operators and the public on the benefits of using biodiesel fuels instead of fossil fuels.

Farmers market promotion — Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif. — Ends the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program that funds food preparation lessons, promotion of locally-grown crops and advertising of farmers markets.

Olive oil — Rep. Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., and others — Strikes the olive oil import marketing order, which would subject olive oil imports to restrictions such as taste testing.

Christmas tree tax — Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind. — Continues the prohibition on the Christmas tree tax by striking the section of the bill that lifts the stay on the tax.

Shellfish assistance — Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn. — Adds farmed shellfish to the list of specialty crops eligible for USDA marketing and research assistance.

Crop insurance — Rep. Ron Kind , D-Wisc., and others — Limits premium subsidies to producers with an AGI under $250,000, limits per person premium subsidies to $50,000, and caps crop insurance providers’ reimbursement of administrative and operating expenses at $900 million and reduces their rate of return to 12 percent. Introduces transparency into the crop insurance program.

Section 11012 — Rep. John Carney, D-Del. — Strikes Section 11012.

Sheep industry — Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla. — Repeals the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center.

Natural stone — Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich. — Strikes the addition of “natural stone” to the list of commodity products that can petition the USDA for the issuance of a promotion and research order.