Draft of farm bill coming soon from House committee

House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) are expected to release a bill that cuts the deficit more than the farm bill that passed the Senate last month would, however. Whereas the Senate bill cuts the deficit by $23.6 billion, mostly by eliminating direct farm payments, the House bill is expected to have between $33 billion and $40 billion in cuts.

ADVERTISEMENT
The extra savings is mostly expected to come from food stamps. The Senate got more than $4 billion in savings from the program, but Lucas wants to get $16 billion, sources have said. The savings are to come from automatic eligibility for food aid for recipients of other welfare benefits and for those receiving home heating assistance. 

The bill is expected to contain an expanded crop insurance program, as in the Senate bill, but this program could have higher deductables for farmers to meet.

The House version is also expected to contain a price-based countercyclical program for farmers that the Senate bill eliminates. This program is being pushed by lobbyists for rice and peanut farmers, who say they are hurt by the elimination of direct payments and are not helped by expanded crop insurance.

The Lucas-Peterson draft bill is expected to have more generous benefits than a target price-based compromise floated last month by Sens. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.).

The bill is expected to cut environmental conservation programs by roughly the same amounts, $6.4 billion, as the Senate bill.

The committee plans to mark up the bill over three days, starting July 11.

It is by no means certain that the bill will come up for a House floor vote. GOP leaders are focused on a bill to repeal 'ObamaCare,' appropriations bills and anti-tax increase measures and are not seen as enthusiastic about voting on a major spending bill.

Congress must do something, however, by Sept. 30, when current farm policy expires.