House GOP sets up vote next week on one-year farm bill extension

The House next week will vote on a one-year extension of the 2008 farm bill, coupled with an extension of disaster aid for livestock producers.

The House Rules Committee on Friday announced a Tuesday meeting to consider a rule for the farm bill.

The announcement caps weeks of struggle in the House GOP over how to proceed on the legislation. The House Agriculture Committee this month passed a five-year bill with major changes to farm subsidies and food stamps.

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Committee members had resisted a one-year extension, but on Thursday Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) said he would support it if it could lead to a House-Senate conference committee on a larger bill. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) also announced her support.

However Peterson said late Friday, at this point, he is against extension.

"I am against an extension and will remain opposed until I receive assurances that this is the path to conference a five-year farm bill with the Senate. Farmers need the certainty of a five year farm bill,” he said.

House leaders have resisted bringing up the five-year bill for fear of a messy floor battle. Fiscal conservatives say the $957 billion bill spends too much and note that its $35 billion in deficit savings takes less out of farm subsidies than President Obama's budget. Liberals, meanwhile, are opposed to the bill's $16.5 billion in cuts to food stamps.

If the House passes the one-year bill, Stabenow can call for a conference to meld it with the bill passed by the Senate in June. Significant differences on crop insurance and price-based protection for southern farmers would have to be resolved, as well as differences over food stamp cuts.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) could refuse to appoint conferees, however, if conservatives object to the possibility of a five-year bill coming to the floor.

A coalition of conservative fiscal groups and environmentalists on Friday urged Boehner not to allow the one-year extension to be used to conference a five-year bill.

A letter, signed by groups ranging from Americans for Tax Reform to the Environmental Working Group, calls the tactic a "bait and switch."

"Recent comments from House Agriculture Committee leadership clearly outline a strategy to use supplemental drought assistance and a one year extension as a ‘Trojan Horse’ to get to conference with the Senate on a five-year Farm Bill that is estimated to cost nearly a trillion dollars over the next decade," the coalition letter states. "If successful, this gambit would make a mockery of your laudable commitment to have full and open debate on legislation."

The text of the farm bill posted on the Rules Committee website extends a variety of programs that expired in 2011 and which farmers and ranchers say they need to cope with this year's extreme drought.


The bill costs $621 million over 10 years and the extended disaster aid is paid for, according to the Agriculture Committee.

It extends Livestock Indemnity Payments (LIP), Livestock Forage Disaster Programs (LFP), Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish (ELAP), along with the Tree Assistance Program (TAP).

To pay for all that, a number of environmental programs are capped, and direct subsidy payments to farmers are trimmed slightly.

"It is critical that we provide certainty to our producers and address the devastating drought conditions that are affecting most of the country and I look forward to supporting and advancing this legislation," Agriculture  Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) said.

— This story was last updated at 6:30 p.m.


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