Farm Bill Debate Turns to House of Representatives

On June 10, the US Senate passed their version of the 2013 Farm Bill. And the House of Representatives has taken up the Farm Bill this week.

We applaud the Senate for passing a Farm Bill that closes the gaping loopholes that have made a mockery of farm program payment limitations. And we thank Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) for their tireless advocacy for reducing the subsidies that mega-farms use to drive family farmers out of business.

However, moving the same reforms forward in the House of Representatives, as their Farm Bill moves to the floor, will be a longer row to hoe. Fortunately, Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) will offer an amendment virtually identical to the provision Senators Grassley and Johnson worked to include in the Senate Farm Bill. Crucial decisions about this farm bill will be made in a House and Senate Conference Committee, making Rep. Fortenberry’s payment limits amendment even more crucial to pass in the House.

Likewise, the full Senate accepted an amendment offered by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Senator Dick Durbin that reduces crop insurance premiums subsidies for the nation’s wealthier farms. We urge Representatives to add the same income test to crop insurance premium subsidies that the Senate accepted. Even better, there is likely to be a House amendment to apply the Grassley-Johnson payment limit rules to crop insurance premium subsidies. Rural America wants and needs a Farm Bill that includes these crucial reforms.