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Published July 11, 2013, 02:58 PM

House passes scaled-down farm bill

Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Kevin Cramer announced the U.S. House of Representatives passed a new five-year farm bill, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2013.

Washington, D.C. – Today Congressman Kevin Cramer announced the U.S. House of Representatives passed a new five-year farm bill, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2013. All agriculture provisions and floor amendments in the first farm bill vote were included in Thursday’s passage, with a separate bill addressing food stamps to be considered at a later date.

The bill now moves to a joint conference committee for reconciliation between the House and Senate versions.

Wetland mitigation amendment

In floor debate, the House of Representatives approved an amendment which ensures a producer would be subject to no higher than a 1-for-1 acreage basis when enhancing, restoring or creating wetlands as part of the current USDA no net loss wetlands policy. Under the amendment, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can no longer subject farmers to higher requirements for wetlands restoration based on its own arbitrary judgment of land quality. The amendment was adopted into the final version passed by the House.

The House bill saves $6 billion by consolidating duplicative conservation programs and streamlining the delivery of incentive funds to farmers, ranchers, and landowners.

Commodity programs and crop insurance strengthened

The bill offers producers a choice between two types of risk management: Price Loss Coverage (PLC), which addresses deep, multi-year price losses, and Revenue Loss Coverage (RLC), which offers coverage based on county-wide losses.

The same Supplemental Coverage Option (SCO) found in the Senate bill is also included in the House bill. It allows for the purchase of a wider, supplemental crop insurance policy for a portion of losses not addressed by an individual farm-based policy.

Water retention and flood prevention

The farm bill includes funding for water retention and flood prevention efforts, including programs which will continue to benefit the Red River Valley. More than $50 million in competitive assistance will be available each year through the new Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which consolidates four previously existing programs including the Agriculture Water Enhancement Program (AWEP).

Missouri River flood protection

An amendment to promote immediate increases in flood protection for agricultural interests in the Missouri River is included in the farm bill. The Secretary of Agriculture is directed to respond to the devastating flood in 2011 by supporting efforts to recalculate the amount of water storage needed for adequate protection, and increasing the capacity of the river channel.

No net cost sugar program maintained

The sugar program will continue to allow United States sugar producers to compete effectively in a heavily manipulated global marketplace. Brazil subsidizes its sugar production by approximately $2 to $3 billion per year, and the government of Mexico owns 1/5th of its sugar industry while subsidizing the rest.

Livestock programs renewed

The bill returns programs important to North Dakota ranchers and honey producers. The Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), the Livestock Forage Program (LFP), the Emergency Livestock Extension Program (ELAP), and Honey Bees and Farm-Raised Fish Program were authorized in the 2008 farm bill but expired in October 2011.

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