House eyes farm bill vote after recess

The stalled farm bill is picking up momentum again, as negotiators try to resolve all remaining differences this week.
House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) said Thursday that farm bill negotiators are aiming to unveil the legislation next week and have it voted on during the last week of January, half of which is taken up by the Republican annual retreat.
{mosads}“It is tight,” he said, adding he discussed the timeline with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). “John and I spoke about that yesterday, and we’re going to try. He wants to get this done, and I want to get this done.”
“I think everybody is engaged. Hopefully we can finish this off,” he said.
The biggest problem has been what to do with dairy subsidies, and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) are closing in on a deal.
The dispute is aimed at satisfying a demand by Boehner that no government milk supply management system is put into place. A compromise would keep a new proposed margin insurance scheme but move away from strict production controls, said Peterson, who has fought for the supply management provision.
“It’s a market-based signal that would be sent to farmers if we’re in an overproduction situation,” he said. “It’s through the insurance premiums.”
A source familiar with the talks said this could involve charging a co-payment for producers with high production. 
The original Peterson proposal, known as the Dairy Security Act, would have reduced production by cutting subsidies to farmers who do not voluntarily reduce production when the margin between feed and milk prices falls deeply. The cut in subsidies of up to 8 percent would have been used by the government to buy up dairy products for donation to food banks.
Peterson said he did not like the proposal and was working to improve it but said Stabenow is taking the lead in the talks.
As Peterson was explaining the idea to reporters in the House lobby, Boehner walked by and joked, “You set them straight.”
Dairy farmers represented by the National Milk Producers Federation said they are working with leaders on the compromise but did not yet have a position.
“There have been some conceptual discussions recently about a different approach to farm bill dairy title,” said spokesman Chris Galen. “As always, the devil is in the details, and our members will have to become familiar with any alternative option before we can take a position.”
Tags Collin Peterson Debbie Stabenow farm bill Frank Lucas John Boehner

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