On Tuesday, June 19, the House Appropriations Committee passed its FY 2013 Agriculture Appropriations bill, which the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee passed on June 6.
The full Committee bill, which we outlined in detail in an earlier post, is nearly identical to the Subcommittee bill. However, the Committee did adopt a number of amendments, including:
- An amendment offered by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to limit eligibility for farm commodity payments to individuals and entities with annual adjusted gross incomes of less than $250,000 ($500,000 for most married couples, and higher for individuals with multiple business entities).
- An amendment offered by Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) to allow states to provide fresh, whole, or cut potatoes through the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) supplemental nutrition program, so long as the potatoes do not contain added sugars, fats, or oils.
- An amendment offered by Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) to prohibit USDA from inspecting horse slaughtering facilities in the U.S. The intent of the amendment is to effectively end horse slaughter in the U.S. by prohibiting one of the key steps needed to prepare horsemeat for sale abroad.
The Committee also rejected a number of amendments including:
- An amendment offered by Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) to partially reverse a substantial cut to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
- An amendment offered by Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) to eliminate the sugar price support program.
- An amendment offered by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) to to partially reverse a cut to the Food for Peace program.
We regret to report that the Committee also rejected an amendment offered by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) to strike a rider that would force USDA to rescind most components of its fair competition and contract reform rule that it issued in December 2011. Congress directed USDA to implement this rule, known as the Grain, Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Act (GIPSA) rule, and the agency began to do so last year. In defending her amendment, Rep. Kaptur pointed to a list of 143 groups that oppose the rider. That list includes the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union, NSAC, and many other organizations.
We commend Congresswoman Kaptur for standing up for American farmers by offering an amendment to strike the anti-farmer rider from the bill. We also commend Congressman Sanford Bishop (D-GA) for speaking up on behalf of Georgia poultry growers in support of Congresswoman Kaptur’s amendment. The anti-competition language included in the House appropriations bill is a perversion of the legislative process. We depend on appropriators to provide annual funding for discretionary programs, not to legislate in an appropriations bill and not to undo farm bill legislation passed by Congress, signed into law by the President, and duly promulgated by USDA. NSAC will continue to fight this language on the floor and if necessary in conference in the months to come.
For more details, see the NSAC Appropriations Chart on our website, which is now up-to-date with House Committee action.
You can also download the full Committee report from the Appropriations Committee website. The report language provides more detailed direction to USDA beyond the text of the bill.
The House has not yet set a timeline for when or if it will consider the FY 2013 agriculture appropriations bill on the floor. The Senate has already passed its bill out of full Committee, so the next step will be for both chambers to bring their respective appropriations bills to the floor. The two chambers would then conference their bills to work out any differences before sending the final appropriations bill to the President. As we know from previous years, however, it remains to be seen whether the bills will be passed individually, folded into an omnibus package, or dropped in favor of a long-term continuing resolution based on current year funding levels. We will monitor the process and keep readers informed as we learn more.