House leadership quietly released legislative text on the House Rules Committee website this afternoon of a one year farm bill extension (through FY 2013) with a disaster assistance package.
The legislative text is available here.
The bill largely extends the 2008 farm bill through FY 2013 with some modifications and exclusions, and provides disaster assistance to livestock producers, orchard owners and others who are adversely affected by drought, freeze, and wildfire, retroactive for 2012 and through 2013. Specifically, the disaster assistance package reauthorizes Livestock Indemnity Payments (LIP), Livestock Forage Disaster Programs (LFP), Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish (ELAP), and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP).
The cost of the extension package and disaster assistance comes from trimming direct farm payments, conservation, and SNAP employment and training funding. Preliminary estimates (CBO score not yet available) from Lucas’ committee indicate that the new disaster spending will cost $621 million over 10 years, and that this legislation has a net savings of about $400 million above the necessary offset to cover costs.
The savings comes from the following cuts:
- Direct payments, which cost about $5 billion annually, would be trimmed by reducing the percentage paid on a producer’s “base acres” from 85 percent of a producer’s base acres to 84.5 percent.
- In addition to reducing direct payments, the proposal would cap the Conservation Stewardship Program at 11 million acres, Environmental Quality Incentives Program at $1.4 billion, the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program is capped at $150 million, and the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program is capped at $45 million.
- It would also trim $11 million (or 13 percent) from SNAP employment and training funding.
The House Rules Committee will meet Tuesday at 5pm – the agenda for the meeting can be found here. It’s uncertain what the structure of the rule will be – that’s been subject to debate – whether amendments will be allowed, and if so, will they be limited.
House leadership intends to put this package up for a vote next week before members break for the August district work period, and the vote will likely be scheduled for Wednesday. As of this update, the house floor schedule for next week has not been released yet.
Chairman Lucas would prefer to pass a comprehensive farm bill this Congress, but House leadership continues to not see a path forward for clearing this bill on the floor. Ranking member Peterson, however, has yet to officially endorse this extension package and will only support its path forward if this legislation is a means toward conferencing a comprehensive bill. It is not clear if House leadership will need Peterson’s support to pass this bill. The Senate is expected to call for a conference if the House passes this package. It remains to be seen, however, whether the House would be interested in or able to pass a conference report and the chances seem less likely by the day. One thing is for sure, though, with programs set to expire on September 30, Congress needs to take action of some kind, and if they choose to enact a one-year extension, the process will have to start from the beginning again in the next Congress.