NSAC's Blog

House Rules Committee Kills Key Farm Bill Amendments

June 19, 2013

Very early on the morning of Wednesday, June 19, the House Rules Committee decided upon which amendments members of the House of Representatives will vote on during House considering of the 2013 Farm Bill today, tomorrow, and perhaps into next week.  The final list includes 103 amendments, but excludes several of the most important amendments related to crop insurance reform, rural development, local food promotion, organic agriculture, and outreach and assistance to minority farmers and ranchers.

The House must vote to approve the rule (including the list of amendments approved for debate) before members can begin voting on amendments beginning at about 6:00pm tonight.  The rule is expected to pass.  NSAC opposes the rule because it excluded the primary reform amendments as well as the primary amendments for local food, organic, and minority farmers.

The rule allows the House to work its will on several key amendments, including a commodity program payment limit reform amendment offered by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and an amendment offered by Reps. Fortenberry and Mike Thompson (D-CA) to re-attach conservation accountability measures to federal subsidies for crop insurance premiums.  The House will also vote on two conservation amendments offered by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) to improve the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Conservation Reserve Program.

However, the Rule precludes the House from voting on many of the most important amendments backed by NSAC, including:

  • Reps. Richard Hanna (R-NY), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), and Tom Petri (R-WI) – to reduce federal crop insurance subsidies by 15 percent for producers whose adjusted gross income exceeds $750,000 per year (twice that for most married couples).
  • Reps. Petri and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) – to cap federal crop insurance premium subsidies at $50,000 per year per farm (twice that for married couples) and apply actively engaged rules to those subsidies to limit subsidies to working farmers.
  • Reps. Jacki Speier (D-CA), DeLauro, and David Schweikert (R-AZ) – to increase transparency in the crop insurance program.
  • Reps. Pingree, Fortenberry, Chris Gibson (R-NY), and Mike McIntyre (D-NC) – to promote local and regional food systems and rural economic development.
  • Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) – to prohibit retaliatory actions against livestock producers and poultry growers when they express opinions about unfairness in the marketplace to public officials.
  • Rep. Ann Kuster (D-NH) – to equalize payment limits for organic and non-organic farmers within the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
  • Reps. Michelle Lujan-Grisham (D-NM) and Terri Sewell (D-AL) – to restore funding for outreach and technical assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

Unfortunately, the Rules Committee has chosen to limit the democratic process by killing many of the most important amendments before Members of the House even have a chance to vote yes or no.  In many cases, these amendments have broad, bipartisan support, and in all cases they would substantially improve the farm bill for family farmers across the country.

Moving forward, assuming passage of the rule, we will be urging the House to accept and to pass Rep. Fortenberry’s common sense reforms to the commodity programs, the Thompson-Fortenberry conservation accountability reform, and the Blumenauer amendments to improve conservation programs.

Categories: Beginning and Minority Farmers, Commodity, Crop Insurance & Credit Programs, Competition & Anti-trust, Conservation, Energy & Environment, Farm Bill, Local & Regional Food Systems, Organic, Rural Development

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