Whether you are a family farmer or a consumer, you may want to pay attention to what’s going on in Washington over the coming weeks regarding the 2012 Farm Bill. The Ohio Farmers Union with the help of the National Farmers Union will be posting important documents and information about the status of the Farm Bill as it moves closer to final Senate passage and on to the House of Representatives. Watch this space for updates and ideas about which you may want to contact your elected officials in Washington. We’ll provide details about amendments that come up on the floor of the Senate and further information once the bill is passed there.
January 21, 2014
Boehner, who as a member of the House served on the Ag Committee for several years, has described the U.S. Dairy Program as “Soviet-style,” which doesn’t leave a lot of room for compromise. His latest issue according to NFU and media sources revolves around proposed dairy price stabilization measures including dictating how much milk is produced. Supporters of greater price stabilization measures in the dairy industry say supply management is needed to forestall overproduction and price swings to the low end that would endanger the financial viability of dairy farmers. Boehner says that prices for all manner of dairy products are too high due to the Dairy Program and free market reforms are in order.
While Boehner and others propose a “burn the village to save it” mentality on dairy farming, what’s missing from their “reforms” is the very point of the Farm Bill – how do we afford some level of protection to farmers – especially independent producers – from price extremes in the market? There is U.S. commodity supply policy on other agricultural products, what makes dairy different?
NFU also reports that there could still be at least one public conference committee hearing on the Farm Bill featuring current hot button topics such as COOL. It remains important for independent, family farmers and consumers to let their members of Congress and senators know that there is strong support among their constituents for knowing the origin of their food.
While we reported in the last Ohio Country Messenger that the Farm Bill appeared to be heading toward compromise and completion, perhaps by mid-January, here we are with the Congress that can’t get things done. While most members are at home this week, leadership is expected to continue negotiations and there is a chance for a final conference report vote – and an end to the dysfunction – during the last week in January.
October 24, 2013
Senate and House Agriculture Committee leaders today announced that the first public meeting for the 2013 Farm Bill conference committee will be held next week on Wednesday, October 30 at 1:00 p.m. ET in room 1100 of the Longworth House Office Building (the Ways and Means Committee Room). The agenda for the meeting of conferees will include opening statements and discussion of H.R. 2642, the House’s Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013. READ MORE
October 15, 2013
Check out this post from the OFU Blog. NFU priorities for House-Senate Farm Bill conference committee.
October 13, 2013
House Conferees Finally Appointed
One member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio, Rep. Marcia Fudge (D), will be one of 29 members of the House side of a conference committee to begin negotiating with the Senate on differing versions of the Farm Bill.
The Farm Bill has been held up for a year as partisan games in the House have kept chances for bipartisan compromise with the Senate in limbo.
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson issued the following statement following the House appointing members to the farm bill conference committee:
“I am pleased to see that the House has finally taken action that will move the farm bill closer to completion. There is a lot of work to be done and this is a long-awaited announcement.
“I hope the conferees will consider the needs of all family farmers, ranchers, consumers and hungry Americans throughout its deliberations, and ultimately present a five-year, comprehensive bill with an adequate safety net that can be supported by both houses of Congress and by the president for adoption before the end of the year.”
July 8, 2013
Click here to read a letter signed by 532 farming and related industry groups to House Speaker John Boehner.
June 21, 2013
Opinion piece on the OFU blog after Tea Partiers kill Farm Bill once again in U.S. House.
June 13, 2013
Senate passes Farm Bill – again
On June 10 the U.S. Senate passed this year’s version of a bipartisan Farm Bill. It looks a lot like last year’s.
Ohio’s two senators split their votes. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee voted yes. Sen. Rob Portman voted no, citing disagreement with the final bill’s language on counter-cyclical payments and his belief that the final bill does not cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps) enough.
“One in seven Ohio jobs is related to food and agriculture. By eliminating direct payments, improving crop insurance, and boosting local food production and biobased manufacturing, the Senate has taken the first step toward sending to the President a five-year farm bill,” Brown said.
“This bill saves more than $24 billion while maintaining important investments in conservation, nutrition, renewable energy, and rural development. Farmers across Ohio have told me they want a leaner, more efficient, and market-oriented farm safety net. Taxpayers deserve that too. This bill will reduce wasteful spending while investing in critical development projects that will strengthen our communities and support rural economies,” Brown added.
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson praised the Senate’s final bipartisan vote (66-27) and asked the House to move quickly on its version of the bill.
“NFU urges the U.S. House of Representatives to follow suit with expeditious floor consideration and passage of its version of the legislation. NFU looks forward to working with both chambers of Congress through a conference committee to complete a comprehensive, five-year farm bill before current legislation expires on Sept. 30,” Johnson said.
From the Senate Ag Committee, a few Farm Bill highlights:
Direct Payments/Risk Management
- Eliminates direct payments. Farmers will no longer receive payments when prices are rising and support is not needed. Ending these subsidies and creating responsible risk management is a major shift in American farm policy
- Caps remaining risk management support at $50,000 per person
- Ends Farm Payments to Non-Farmers. This bill closes the “management loophole,” through which people who were not actually farming—in many cases not even setting foot on the farm—were designated as farm “managers” so they could receive farm payments
- Requires conservation compliance for crop insurance, which will protect both the farm safety net and the natural resources that our nation’s farmers and ranchers will need for generations to come
- Strengthens crop insurance and expands access so farmers are not wiped out by bad weather
- Includes disaster relief for producers hurt by drought, spring freeze, and other weather disasters
- Reforming farm programs, ending direct payments and implementing market-oriented programs to help farmers manage risk saves $16 billion dollars ($12 billion in the bill, $4 billion through sequestration)
- The bill consolidates 23 existing conservation programs into 13 programs—while maintaining existing tools to protect and conserve land, water and wildlife
- Streamlining programs provides added flexibility and focuses conservation around four primary functions: working lands conservation, the Conservation Reserve Program, regional partnerships, and easements to help prevent sprawl and protect wetlands
- These reforms save money while still increasing resources for top priorities
- Because we are truly doing more with less, changes to conservation policies are supported by nearly 650 conservation organizations from all 50 states
- Stopping lottery winners from continuing to receive assistance
- Preventing states from providing $1 per year in home heating assistance to individuals who do not have a heating bill for the sole purpose of providing extra benefits above what they would normally receive
- Ending misuse by college students whose families are not truly low-income
- Cracking down on retailers and recipients engaged in benefit trafficking
- Increasing requirements to prevent liquor and tobacco stores from accepting food assistance benefits
- The above savings reduce the deficit while continuing support for food banks, seniors’ food programs and healthy school lunch initiatives
- Export opportunities to help farmers find new global markets for their goods
- Help for family farmers to sell locally, increasing support for farmers’ markets and spurring the creation of food hubs to connect farmers to schools and other community-based organizations
- Training and access to capital to make it easier for beginning farmers to get off the ground
- Initiatives to help American veterans start agriculture businesses
- Growth in bio-based manufacturing (businesses producing goods in America from raw agricultural products grown in America) to create rural agriculture and urban manufacturing jobs
- Innovation in bio-energy production, supporting non-food based advanced biomass energy production such as cellulosic ethanol and woody biomass power
- Research to promote the commercialization of new agricultural innovations
- Rural development initiatives to help rural communities upgrade infrastructure, extend broadband internet availability and create a better environment for small businesses
May 12, 2013
From the National Farmers Union:
The 2013 Farm Bill is moving along, as both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees released drafts of the legislation this week. The Senate Ag Committee is scheduled to mark up the bill Tuesday, May 14, at 10:00 a.m. EDT, and its House counterpart is planning a markup for Wednesday, May 15, at 10:00 a.m. EDT. Both committees will broadcast the markups live on their websites, www.agriculture.senate.gov and www.agriculture.house.gov.
The deadline for Senators to file amendments to the bill was Friday, May 10th at 5:00 p.m., and House members must file amendments by Monday at 6:00 p.m. NFU will send out additional information as we get it, or watch www.NFU.org/farmbill for updates.
Below are some important links:
February 16, 2013
Could attempts by Congress to deal with so-called sequestration cuts harm their ability to pass a Farm Bill later this year? Read More
December 5, 2012
Media Reports: Some progress on 2012 Farm Bill
With just days left on the 2012 congressional calendar, Politico reports today that some progress is being made among “The Big Four” in the Farm Bill debate on Capitol Hill.
The Big Four are the House and Senate Ag Committees’ chairpersons and ranking members. The four were brought together one week ago by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack at the department for a round of meetings to see if a full five-year Farm Bill can be salvaged from what’s been a messy political year in Washington. As it stands now, the Senate has passed a bill and the House Ag Committee has moved a bill out of committee. Ohioan and House Speaker John Boehner has not allowed the House Farm Bill to come to the floor for a vote allowing the process to move forward and a reconciliation of both chambers’ bills. The previous Farm Bill expired on Sept. 30.
Time is certainly running short, if there is any hope of salvaging a bill before this Congress ends. But in a major effort to get a compromise, (Sen. Pat) Roberts said last week that he is prepared to drop his opposition to target price supports favored by many Southern producers. And it’s expected the final commodity title will include these, together with a new “shallow loss” revenue insurance option favored by the Senate and many Midwest corn and soybean farmers.
The outdated and costly system of direct cash payments to producers would be ended. Together with cuts from food stamps, the end result is the Senate and House farm bills promise net savings of $24 billion to $35 billion over 10 years.
The shame of it all is in the fact that in both the House and Senate there has been bipartisanship on display in moving the Farm Bill in a year when much other important legislation dies in either chamber due to purely partisan gamesmanship. It’s also a shame that U.S. farmers and ranchers and their supporters in Congress have put forward a bill that includes real deficit reduction and a move away from direct payments – yet the so-called Tea Party Caucus in the House seems to be holding Boehner and farmers hostage.
The National Farmers Union continues to represent OFU interests in Washington. On Tuesday, NFU President Roger Johnson said,
“There is a simple way to avoid the proverbial fiscal cliff and that is to pass what many can agree on now: raise additional revenues but also reducing expenditures. Besides increasing some taxes, strategic cuts should also be made to government spending, and among them should be the inclusion of a five-year farm bill.”
“Both the House and Senate agriculture committees, along with the full Senate, have passed bipartisan versions of the farm bill that will save between $23 billion and $35 billion. A compromise version of this five-year farm bill represents a smart way to cut spending that Republicans and Democrats can agree to,” Johnson continued.
NFU legislative staff and Johnson have cautioned that one potential approach – passing a short-term extension to the Farm Bill – would have negative long-term implications. These include more arbitrary cuts as part of an extension, lower caps for conservation programs and less funding for Agricultural Risk Coverage, Price Loss Coverage and the like.
NFU and OFU continue to ask our members to contact their members of Congress and Senators to let them know passing a full five-year Farm Bill remains one of the most important things they should do before the end of the year. You can look up your member’s or senator’s information here. (Use the Zip Code lookup near the bottom of the page.)
September 20, 2012
NFU: Boehner prolongs uncertainty for family farmers – Farm Bill held hostage
NFU President Roger Johnson issued a statement following Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner’s announcement that action on the farm bill would take place following the Nov. 6 general election.
“NFU is deeply disappointed with Speaker Boehner’s comments this morning. It is crystal clear that Republican leadership is what is holding the farm bill hostage. While the announcement comes as no surprise, punting the farm bill into the lame duck session is a transparent political maneuver that leaves rural America holding its collective breath about its livelihood and future.
“The lame duck session will be dealing with many very significant tax and funding issues which have also been left undone by this Congress. We worry about whether the farm bill might become a pawn in that process.
“We are confident that there are enough votes to pass the farm bill now. We strongly urge the Speaker to reconsider the recess and take up the bill and deal with it now. Congress should not leave town early while leaving U.S. farmers and ranchers facing enormous uncertainty.
“On the heels of one of the most devastating disasters our country has seen in many years, the agricultural community needs certainty here and now, not in six weeks time. Allowing Congress to pack up and leave town once again without taking up a farm bill is an irresponsible travesty.”
August 18, 2012
The U.S. Senate has done its job. The House of Representatives Ag Committee has done its job. Now it’s time for Speaker John Boehner and the rest of the House majority leadership to do theirs: Bring the 2012 Farm Bill to the House floor for action.
There’s a job for you to do as well. Contact your member of Congress and tell him or her that it’s never been more important for U.S. farm policy to move forward in a bipartisan manner. U.S. farmers and ranchers are battling the worst drought since WWII, the national economic recovery is weak and farmers need certainty as much as multi-national corporations and the big banks on Wall Street. Don’t let them forget the farmers. By clicking the image to the left, you will find some information from the National Farmers Union. Read it and think about how the lack of a Farm Bill passed by September 30 would affect your own family farm. Tell your member of Congress about that and ask them to support efforts to move the bipartisan bill passed by the House Ag Committee to the floor.
August 13, 2012
from the National Farmers Union:
Members of Congress left Washington, D.C., to head back to their districts for the month of August without passing the farm bill, which expires on Sept. 30. It is critical that the conversation about the farm bill continues. Contact your members of Congress and Senators when they are in your state. They need to hear from their constituents why passing the farm bill is the one thing they must do before the legislative session is over.
Schedule face-to-face meetings with your policymakers and use the attached one-page handout in your meetings (located below, and at http://nfu.org/farmbill).
To emphasize the urgency of passing the farm bill, note the following points:
* Pass the farm bill before it expires on Sept. 30, 2012. Thirty-seven programs vital to the rural American economy will end after this date. Although a temporary extension of the farm bill is better than no farm bill at all, an extension poses many problems and the longer Congress waits, the more difficult it will be to craft a strong bill.
* Farmers, just like any other small business, need certainty. Long-term government policies that protect against low yields, price volatility and high input costs are needed so that they can craft effective business plans and provide confidence to bankers in order to lend to farmers.
* Pass legislation that would retroactively authorize disaster programs [Supplemental Revenue Assistance Program (SURE), Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), Livestock Forage Program (LFP) and Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP)] for losses suffered in 2012. The severe drought plaguing U.S. agriculture necessitates that these disaster programs be included in the farm bill.
July 9, 2012 – Update
July 6, 2012 – Update
Go check out the post on our blog about heartland farmers’ attitudes about Farm Bill conservation programs. Short story: U.S. farmers in 13 midwestern and upper midwestern states value farm bill conservation programs positive for the environment and positive for their bottom line.
You can also read the polling document here.
July 3, 2012 – General Update
If you’ve been watching our blog, receiving the OFU email newsletter or paying attention to other media, you know that the U.S. Senate passed its version of the Farm Bill in late June. Here is our blog post from that day.
In a recent visit to Ohio State University, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack urged the U.S. House of Representatives to act quickly on the Farm Bill:
We have fires in the West. We also have a drought in parts of the country,” Vilsack told academics, farming advocates and policymakers yesterday.
It’s important and necessary that we have some programs in place to help those farmers who, through no fault of their own, are faced with the loss of a crop. That cannot happen unless we have a food, jobs and farm bill by Sept. 30. Full story from the Columbus Dispatch
As it stands, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) commended the Senate on its bill, but said the House will take a different approach:
I commend Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Roberts on passage of S. 3240, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act. It was a challenge to move this legislation and their efforts have made it possible.
Although there will be differences between the Senate approach and our own, I hope my colleagues are encouraged by this success when we meet on the 11th to consider our own legislation. The House Agriculture Committee will consider a balanced proposal that saves taxpayers billions of dollars, recognizes the diversity of American agriculture, respects the risks producers face, and preserves the tools necessary for food production.
What we know for sure about the big picture in the House is that the Ag Committee will get to work on July 11. Ohio has three members on the House Ag Committee – Rep. Jean Schmidt, (OH-2), Rep. Bob Gibbs, (OH-11) and Rep. Marcia Fudge, (OH-11). By clicking the links on their names you can let them know that the National Farmers Union and the Ohio Farmers Union support the Senate’s bipartisan approach to the Farm Bill and urge them to work for swift passage before the current legislation expires on Sept. 30. If you are not in a district represented by one of the three members above, you should contact your own member of Congress, give them the same message and ask them to pass it along to their colleagues on the Ag Committee.