CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Wednesday, January 29, 2014, the House will consider the Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, under a rule. The conference report was filed on Monday, January 27, 2014.
The conference report authorizes federal agriculture programs for an additional five years. The report cuts $23 billion in mandatory spending, including $8 billion from the supplemental nutrition assistance program. According to the Committee, the conference report:
In particular, the conference report endsdirect payments and limits producers to risk management tools that offer protection when they suffer significant losses. It holds farm programs more accountable – tightening eligibility and streamlining means testing. The conference report also strengthens crop insurance. It makes reforms to dairy policy – repealing outdated and ineffective dairy programs and replacing it with a new, voluntary, margin protection program without the government mandated supply controls. It reauthorizes and strengthens livestock disaster assistance. It supports small businesses and beginning farmers and ranchers with training and access to capital.
It makes the first reforms to the SNAP program since 1996, saving $8 billion in the program. The conference report repeals the “heat and eat” loophole that artificially increases benefit levels when states provide nominal LIHEAP assistance. It establishes a 10-state pilot to empower states to engage able bodied adults in mandatory work programs. It prohibits USDA from engaging in SNAP recruitment activities, and advertising SNAP on TV, radio, billboards, and through foreign governments. It ensures that illegal immigrants, lottery winners, traditional college students and the deceased do not receive SNAP benefits. It also ensures that SNAP recipients are not receiving benefits in multiple states. It stops abuses such as water dumping to exchange bottles for cash. It demands outcomes from existing employment and training programs; prohibits states from manipulating SNAP benefit levels by eliminating medical marijuana as an allowable expense; allows states to pursue retailer fraud through a pilot investigation program and crack down on trafficking through data mining, terminal id, and other measures. Finally, the conference report increases assistance to food banks.
The conference report makes additional reforms and provides regulatory relief. It consolidates 23 duplicative and overlapping conservation programs into 13. It provides one year of full funding for the payment in lieu of taxes (PILT) program, providing funding for vital services in communities containing federal land. It provides certainty to the forest products industry by clarifying that forest roads should not be considered as a point source under the Clean Water Act. It creates permanent subcommittee within the EPA Science Advisory Board to conduct peer review of EPA actions that negatively impact agriculture; it eliminates duplicative reporting requirements for seed importers and requires improved economic analysis of FDA regulations. Finally, it fully funds specialty crop industry priorities such as specialty crop block grants.
For more information on the conference report, see the statement of the managers.
The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 expired at the end of fiscal year 2012. The American Taxpayer Relief Act extended the provisions of the 2008 farm bill for one year – giving the House and Senate time to pass a long term authorization. “The Senate adopted S. 954 by a vote of 66-27 on June 10, 2013. On July 11, the House passed H.R. 2642 by a vote of 216-208. On September 19, the House passed a stand-alone nutrition bill H.R. 3102, the Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act of 2013 by a vote of 217-210. The House subsequently adopted a resolution H.Res. 361 that combined the texts of H.R. 2642 and H.R. 3102 into one bill (H.R. 2642) for purposes of resolving differences with the Senate.” On October 11, 2013, the House agreed to a conference.The House passed H.R. 3695, a one month extension of the 2008 farm bill, by voice vote.
 See http://www.crs.gov/pdfloader/R43076.
CBO estimates that direct spending stemming from the programs authorized by the conference agreement would total $956 billion over the 2014-2023 period, of which $756 billion would be for nutrition programs. Relative to spending and revenues projected under CBO’s May 2013 baseline, CBO estimates that enacting the conference agreement would lower budget deficits by $16.6 billion over that 10-year period.
For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.