January 25, 2020

Farm Bill; Budget; Ag Economy; Biofuels; and, EPA

Farm Bill- Policy Issues

DTN Ag Policy Editor Chris Clayton reported yesterday (link requires subscription) that, “Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stressed Tuesday that the Obama administration opposes another extension of the 2008 farm bill even though time is running short as the latest extension ends Sept. 30.

“‘An extension is not the answer, and I will tell you we are very much opposed to the idea of an extension and so is the Senate,’ Vilsack said in a conference call with reporters. ‘That’s just not going to happen.’”

Mr. Clayton explained that, “The House of Representatives could hold a floor debate as early as next week on a bill that would cut nutrition programs by as much as $40 billion over 10 years. The cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are 10 times the level passed in the Senate earlier this year. The administration also opposes the House SNAP proposal and is lobbying for its defeat. Vilsack called the SNAP vote a ‘foil’ for an argument over government entitlement programs.

“‘I sincerely hope it gets defeated and I sincerely hope that regardless of the outcome of that vote, that the House then gets serious about getting this farm bill done,’ he said. ‘To do that, they have got to get conferees appointed.’

“The Senate has been prepared to move to conference. Not so in the House. In fact, House members have indicated there is no likelihood of House leaders appointing conferees for the farm bill until after Oct. 1.”

The DTN article added that, “An extension rewards past failures and ‘creates great risk,’ Vilsack said. One concern would be if Congress were to eliminate the $4.8 billion annual direct payments in an extension without allowing at least some of those funds to be shifted elsewhere. That would translate into significantly steeper farm-program cuts than under either the Senate or House versions of the farm bill.”