Farm bill faces 100 amendments at markup

The House Agriculture Committee on Wednesday launched into a marathon markup of the five-year farm bill, with members facing 100 amendments to the bill, according to Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.).

Lucas announced that some of the amendments filed were not germane, as they involve matters outside the jurisdiction of the committee. He said no votes would be held on these measures.

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Last week, Lucas predicted that the markup could last as long as three days. At this point, the exact length of the markup of the bill, which would set the government on a track to spend $900 billion over 10 years, is not known.

The first amendment taken up was one to alter the dairy supply management program, offered by Reps. David Scott (D-Ga.) and Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.). Scott argued that the program drives up the price of milk, affecting the poor greatly.

They were opposed by Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and members from other dairy-heavy districts who argued small dairy farms are struggling with the highest price volatility of any commodity.

Ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) said the amendment would repeat mistakes in the market-oriented 1996 farm bill, which forced Congress to come back two years later to rescue many farmers with an expensive bailout.

"We only have 99 amendments to go," Lucas said as debate on Amendment One dragged on. 

The dairy amendment was defeated 29 to 17.