The House of Representatives after a long and arduous effort passed a comprehensive five-year farm bill, H.R. 2642, the “Agricultural Act of 2014,” by a vote of 251-166. The nearly $1 trillion bill eliminates direct payments, cuts the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and expands the crop insurance program.The Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) latest estimate says that direct spending for authorized programs will cost $956 billion over 10 years, with nutrition programs costing $756 billion. CBO estimates that commodity programs will be cut by $14.3 billion over 10 years while $5.7 billion will be added to crop insurance programs. The SNAP program according to CBO will be reduced by $8 billion.The farm bill conferees said the farm bill:
- Repeals the direct payment program and strengthens risk management tools.
- Repeals outdate programs and consolidates duplicative ones, eliminating nearly 100 programs or authorizations.
- Helps farmers and ranchers create jobs and provides certainty for the 16 million Americans working in agriculture.
- Strengthens conservation efforts to protect land, water and wildlife for future generations.
- Maintains food assistance for families while addressing fraud and misuse in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
- Reduces the deficit by billions of dollars in mandatory spending.
Other items included in the bill:
- Trade Promotion Programs: reauthorizes the Foreign Market Development Program (FMD) at $34.5 million per year and the Market Access Program (MAP) at $200 million per year.These programs are recognized as critical to the expansion of U.S. agricultural exports.
- Under Secretary of Trade: establishes an Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agriculture Affairs.
- Livestock Disaster Program: establishes a permanent Livestock Disaster Assistance Program to cover losses from natural disaster.
- Diary: ends the Dairy Product Price Support Program and the Milk Income Loss Contract with a margin insurance program.
- Conservation: streamlines and consolidates 23 conservation programs to 13 programs.
- Conservation Compliance: requires conservation compliance for crop insurance programs.
The Senate began debate on the bill today and plans to vote on final passage on Tuesday. The White House has indicated that the President will sign the farm bill if Congress passes the legislation.