October 25, 2013
House and Senate conferees will be sitting down together next week to begin reconciling differences between the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill. There are significant differences between the two bills, including over the future of conservation and renewable energy programs.
This week, the House Agriculture Committee announced the conference committee will convene October 30 to begin negotiating over the future of federal nutrition, agriculture, forestry, conservation, and renewable energy programs.
The Senate passed its version, the " Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013" (S. 954), in June, with strong bipartisan support by a vote of 66 – 27 . The House completed work on its version, the " Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013" (H.R. 2642), on September 28, when it combined its agriculture and nutrition bills into one bill, and sent it to the Senate.
Some of the key differences between the House and Senate bills on conservation and renewable energy issues are:
- The Senate bill would reduce mandatory funding for voluntary conservation programs (such as the Conservation Reserve Program , the Conservation Stewardship Program , and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program ) by about $3.5 billion over ten years. The House bill would reduce funding by about $4.8 billion.
- The Senate bill would protect grasslands, wetlands, healthy soil and clean water with a national sod-saver provision. The House bill would not.
- The Senate bill would require farmers to comply with basic soil and water conservation measures in order to receive public premium subsidies for crop insurance. The House bill would not.
- The Senate bill would provide $900 million in mandatory funding over five years for various bioenergy and other renewable energy programs administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (such as the Rural Energy for America Program , the Biorefinery Assistance Program , and the Biomass Crop Assistance Program ). The House bill would not.
This is the time to contact your senators and representative to express your views – especially if one of your legislators is on the conference committee.
Senate conferees include Senators: Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Patrick Leahy, (D-VT), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Max Baucus (D-MT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), John Boozman (R-AR), and John Hoeven (R-SD).
House conferees include Representatives Frank Lucas (R-OK), Steve King (R-IA), Randy Neugabauer (R-TX), Mike Rogers (R-AL), Michael Conaway (R-TX), Glenn Thompson (R-PA), Austin Scott (R-GA), Rick Crawford (R-AR), Martha Roby (R-AL), Kristi Noem (R-SD), Jeff Denham (R-CA), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Steve Southerland (R-FL), Ed Royce (R-CA), Tom Marino (R-PA), Sam Johnson (R-TX), Collin Peterson (D-MN), Mike McIntyre (D-NC), Jim Costa (D-CA), Tim Walz (D-MN), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Jim McGovern (D-MA), Suzan DelBene (D-WA), Gloria McLeod (D-CA), Filemon Vela (D-TX), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Eliot Engel (D-NY), and Sandy Levin (D-MI).
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