The U.S. House of Representatives, on a 216-208 partisan vote, passed the five-year Farm Bill, which has been working its way around Congress for nearly two years. The bill would end $5 billion per year in direct payments to farmers and expand the federal crop insurance safety net as the primary mechanism for insuring U.S. farmland.
“The Big ’I’ is pleased to see that the Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP) serves as the primary risk management tool in [the Farm Bill],” says Charles Symington, Big “I” SVP of external and government affairs. “Independent agents continue to play an integral role in the success of the crop program and serve as trusted advisors to farmers seeking protection for their farmland.”
All democrats and 12 republicans opposed the bill, which was stripped completely of its food stamp spending, a contentious topic that had thus far been the main roadblock for the bill. The Obama administration has said it would veto the farm measure if food stamp and nutrition legislation were removed.
Groups and lobbyists aligned with both Democrats and Republicans have typically opposed separating farm policy and nutrition programs, according to reports, as farm policy and nutrition programs have been considered symbiotic. Conservatives also worried that separating the two would make it more difficult to reform farm commodity programs in the future.
Nevertheless, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) took a chance with the trimmed-down legislation after the version he brought to the floor last month, which included both farm policy and nutrition program reauthorizations, failed.
The Senate passed its version of the Farm Bill, officially known as H.R. 2642, the “Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013,” on June 10. The House and Senate will now conference their versions of the bill. The current Farm Bill is set to expire on Sept. 30, 2013.
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