Miller: House Passes Farm Bill Focused on Reforming our Nation's Agriculture

Jul 11, 2013

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Candice Miller (MI-10) today made the following statement regarding the House of Representatives passage of the Farm Bill - H.R. 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 (FARRM) Act of 2013.  Miller said:

“This Farm Bill we passed in the House is an historic pivot in the right direction for how Congress creates national agriculture policy.  For decades national farm policy has been tied together with the food stamp program even though one has little to do with the other.  In my opinion the Farm Bill should focus on our nation’s agriculture policy, pure and simple.  The bill we passed today will strengthen American agriculture by separating farm policies and nutrition programs.  Going forward this change will also allow Congress to put the appropriate focus on reforms to the food stamp program that is desperately needed.  Since the combination of these two separate programs decades ago, the nutrition portion has escalated at an alarming rate accounting for nearly 80 percent of the total bill.  By putting forward a vote on the two separate issues, it will allow for both portions to stand on their own merit, and as a result, can put forward a better product for our nation’s citizens in the end.  It truly is a step toward a stronger agricultural industry, and a stronger America.

“Throughout the recent economic downturn, agriculture in Michigan was a pillar in holding up our state’s economy and supporting countless jobs, and is now helping lead the way toward economic recovery and growth.  Over the years, the hard work done by American family farmers combined with sensible national farm policy has enabled our nation’s agricultural industry to become the most abundant and productive in the world while providing every American the advantage of a safe, reliable and affordable domestic food supply.  The abundance of American agriculture also helps to feed the world with American grown food products being one of our nation’s primary exports.

“It is in our national interest to update our national farm policy to make certain that we not only ensure continued access to a stable food supply, but also to eliminate wasteful spending and respond to changes in the industry.  The bill eliminates or consolidates dozens farm programs that are either duplicative or no longer serve a productive purpose.  It ends direct payments to farmers in which farmers receive in good years and bad.  Instead, the bill strengthens our crop insurance program, which has been a successful public-private partnership in which farmers pay for coverage and get a payment only after substantial loss.  These dramatic improvements on current farm policy will give better protection and will save taxpayer dollars.

“If Congress does not act in a timely manner to finish the Farm Bill legislation, our nation will be faced with billions of dollars in overspending – all because of inaction to make needed reforms.  The current law is outdated and ineffective.  The bill the House passed today puts in place a more modern, more effective and more fiscally responsible program.”

As with H.R. 1947, H.R. 2642 is the result of more than three years of debate and discussion, including 46 hearings and a two year audit of every farm program. H.R. 2642 includes 11 of the 12 titles of H.R. 1947, as amended, saving approximately $20 billion, including $6 billion in sequestration.  The bill repeals or consolidates more than 100 programs administered by the United States Department of Agriculture, including direct payments. Like H.R. 1947, H.R. 2642 eliminates and streamlines duplicative and overlapping conservation programs. Finally, H.R. 2642 repeals the underlying 1949 permanent law and replaces it with current law. 

Background Summary:
H.R. 2642 accomplishes the following:
Reducing Farm Policy Spending
FARRM includes the most significant reduction to farm policy in history by improving agricultural programs to be cost‐effective and market‐oriented.
• Direct Payments are eliminated and no payments are made to those who don’t farm.
• Traditional farm policy is cut by almost $23 billion – a record 36 percent reduction. Cuts include repealing Direct Payments, Counter‐Cyclical Payments, the Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program, and the Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE).
• Producers are limited to a risk management option that offers protection only when they suffer significant losses.
• FARRM improves upon crop insurance, a successful public/private partnership that ensures farmers have skin in the game.
• In total, farm policy spending is reduced by almost $14 billion.
• Repeals outdated and unworkable permanent law (1949 Act) and replaces it with the cost effective and market‐oriented 2013 farm bill.

Providing Regulatory Relief
FARRM includes multiple regulatory relief provisions that in total is the largest regulatory relief measure to be voted on this year.
• Eliminates a duplicative permitting requirement for pesticides. (H.R. 935)
• Prohibits EPA from implementing the unjustified and unscientific biological opinions of the National Marine Fisheries Service until there is an unbiased, scientific peer review of those opinions.
• Requires regulatory agencies across the government to use scientifically sound information in moving forward with their regulatory initiatives.
• Requires the Secretary of Agriculture to advocate on behalf of farmers and ranchers as other agencies move forward with regulations affecting food and fiber.
• Eliminates duplicative reporting requirement for seed importers.
• Addresses concerns of farmers and ranchers with regard to access to essential crop protection tools.

Additional Reforms
• Eliminates or combines 23 duplicative and overlapping conservation programs into 13, saving over $6 billion.
• Reauthorizes, strengthens, and fully pays for livestock disaster assistance. These programs were ended in 2011 to fund the Democrats other priorities.
• Fully funds core specialty crop industry priorities such as Specialty Crop Block Grants.