By Jeremy Peters
A fast legislative sprint is ahead over the next few weeks as both the Senate and House Agriculture Committees release legislative language and begin consideration of the 2013 Farm Bill. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., has released a committee draft of the legislation which will be marked up next Tuesday, May 14 at 10 AM. That legislation could move to the Senate floor before Memorial Day. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., has also released a committee draft which will be marked up next Wednesday, May 15 at 10 AM. Both drafts contain many provisions from the 2012 House and Senate farm bills.
Below is a quick rundown of the respective committee drafts.
Conservation Title Programs
Conservation programs are consolidated in an identical fashion from 23 programs down to 13 programs. The Senate Agriculture draft proposes a cut of $5 billion over 10 years while the House Agriculture draft proposes a cut of $6.9 billion over 10 years.
The combined Agriculture Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) will still merge the existing Farm and Ranchland Protection Program, Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) and Grassland Reserve Program (GRP). A major difference regarding the ACEP program is funding, with the House committee draft cutting an additional $166 million from the program compared to the 2012 House committee proposal. There are also technical provisions that AFT is working to assess and provide recommendations to the committees.