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House Flip Could Kick New Farm Bill Into High Gear

by Axios | Updated on 11.8.18

The House flip could be a game-changer for the embattled farm bill, which must be renewed every five years, several policy experts tell Axios.

Why it matters: Major safety nets for farmers are in limbo while smaller agricultural programs have stopped receiving funding altogether, creating extra anxiety for farmers who are already reeling from tariffs and lower crop prices.

The 2014 farm bill expired in September, after the House and the Senate couldn't reconcile their differences.

  • The House wants work requirements for recipients of food stamps, and to allow unlimited subsidy payments to farms, according to Ferd Hoefner, an adviser at advocacy group National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
  • The Senate is opposed to mandating work requirements for food stamps, and wants stricter rules for which farmers get subsidies.
  • President Trump on Wednesday blamed Democrats for holding up the farm bill over worker requirements, but the GOP-controlled Senate did not include major food stamp changes in its version of the bill.
  • "[The farm bill] provides five years of certainty. It reduces risk... so that bankers can be more at ease in terms of extending credit to farmers," explains Tom Vilsack, a former U.S. Senator and Agriculture Secretary who currently heads the U.S. Dairy Export Council.
  • The broadest measurement of farm profitability, net farm income, has fallen 50% since the drought-driven peak in 2013.

While heavily-depended on programs like crop insurance aren't impacted, funding for 39 other programs was cut off when the current bill expired.

  • One example is the Foreign Market Development Program, which helps U.S. farm groups promote their goods overseas — key for corn, wheat, and soybean growers.
  • In a tense trade environment, the program is "increasingly important," and the lack of funding cuts off "vital market development resources," Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association, wrote in a statement.

House Republicans could have more incentive to negotiate before the new Democratic House is sworn in.

  • House Republicans may believe they'll "get a worse farm bill if [they] have to go back and rewrite a House bill under a Democratic chair of the House Agricultural committee," says Vincent Smith, an agricultural economics professor at Montana State University and a visiting scholar at conservative think tank AEI.
  • Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) is expected to lead the House Agricultural Committee — taking the reins from Texas Republican Mike Conaway. Peterson told reporters on Wednesday that a farm bill deal could be "possible as soon as next week."

Bonus scenario: If there's no deal, the current farm bill has to be extended before the end of the year, or risk reverting to 1940s-era law that requires commodity prices to increase. Were that to happen, the new Congress would have to start all over.

Axios

Written by Axios

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(25)
  • burrkitty
    last Thursday
    ···

    It’s stupid to have those two issues tangled up. One issue per bill. No more of these bad bundles. No work requirements and no more subsidies for big ag. Help the small farmers, let the profit mongers at Dole and Green Giant stand in their own. Also end crop subsidies that pay farmers to let food rot in the fields.

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  • Tooluser1
    last Thursday
    ···

    The easy fix is to SEPARATE the two issues. Entitlements should NOT be bundled with Farm subsidies. One subject per Bill. Period. Let them stand or fall on the basis of the Bill itself, not what it's bundled with!

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  • Kodiwodi
    last Thursday
    ···

    I don’t like the idea of passing bills during lame duck sessions of Congress. Perhaps it would be a good idea to go with an extension and then go back to the drawing board, consider the effects of tariffs on subsidies, take another look at the feasibility of these work requirements given the near total employment situation of the country today and actually hammer out something fair, equitable, and not debt breaking for our current situation.

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  • Steve
    last Thursday
    ···

    Stop subsidies and tariffs. IMPEACH Trump. Deport Republicans.

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  • Sandie
    last Thursday
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    I want work requirement for food stamps but why unlimited subsidies to farmers ?

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  • Matt
    last Thursday
    ···

    This needs to be addressed carefully. Extend the current bill until the new reps in the House get into Congress. They were elected by their constituents and they have a right to speak their voice. Attempting to lock these new Congressmen out of their appointed duty will be seen as a slap in the face of the constituents who elected them.

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  • Leon
    last Thursday
    ···

    This needs to be split and voted on each area.

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  • I.Got.an.Idea...
    last Friday
    ···

    Subsidies are entitlements. Republicans should listen to he selves and stop handing out trillions of dollars in subsidies. Stop paying 100’s of billions in subsidies for people not to grow crops. Republicans are a burden on society more so than all people on food stamps.

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  • Dave
    last Thursday
    ···

    The democratic have supported the subsidies to farmers, industries and American people that were hurting! America is hurting, may be not you, but others are!

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  • Poli.Sci
    last Friday
    ···

    Let the bill die because the more we spend helping farmers, the less we adhere to the Free Market. At one time, after the Dust Bowl crisis and especially after the Great Depression, the subsidies were needed to restart the economy. But now, in this day and age, we pay more money to tell farmers not to grow than we gain in helping food stamps and trade. A vital part of our economy is being sold out to farm programs that are non essential and to say we subsidize farmers in need is a terrible notion. Farmers make millions of dollars, even if their food stuff they grow or deliver is reduced. Yeah sure one year it may be cheaper than the next but in all actuality, our farmers are doing pretty good selling to Europe that is experiencing a slight drought. I say let the bill die and allow the subsidy money allocated for this year to go towards things that matter, like Veteran Affairs or helping pay off this egregious debt we have.

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  • Jeffrey
    last Friday
    ···

    Our farmers help sustain the health and livelihood of people worldwide. There should be no bickering when it comes to helping the farmers achieve their common goal of providing goods to the people. While I believe those on food stamps should have to fine jobs to get off of food stamps it should not be a deciding factor in determining what aid is given to farmers. This is an entirely different situation altogether and one that deserves a bill of its one. If the farmers aren’t taken care of then we will see more and more farms shuttering their fields to do the ever increasing costs to run and maintain their daily operations.

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  • Kevin
    last Thursday
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    Farmers, the most highly subsidized people out there, love to bitch and complain that socialism is terrible. If it’s so terrible why are all your policies anti free market???

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  • Peter
    last Thursday
    ···

    No subsidies for farmers. Everything was going great until the tariffs and the trade wars. Try getting along with countries instead of screwing up the USA.

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  • Sondra
    last Friday
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    The farm bill should only include the farmers that are in real trouble! Not those making thousands every year. Maybe a mandatory provision to provide for those who made under a certain amount of money!

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  • Leon
    last Thursday
    ···

    This needs to be split and voted on each area.

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  • Robert
    last Thursday
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    “Territory folks should stick together... no rural vs. urban even tho that’s the way we’ve been voting lately

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  • Sondra
    last Friday
    ···

    The farm bill should only include the farmers that are in real trouble! Not those making thousands every year. Maybe a mandatory provision to provide for those who made under a certain amount of money!

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  • Sondra
    last Friday
    ···

    The farm bill should only include the farmers that are in real trouble! Not those making thousands every year. Maybe a mandatory provision to provide for those who made under a certain amount of money!

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  • Sondra
    last Friday
    ···

    The farm bill should only include the farmers that are in real trouble! Not those making thousands every year. Maybe a mandatory provision to provide for those who made under a certain amount of money!

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  • Jared
    last Thursday
    ···

    I don’t understand why the work requirements for food stamps are making the Republicans balk at a bill like this. Kind of confusing, but overall I think this is a good idea.

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