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House OKs Five-Year Farm Bill

Rep. Frank Lucas triumphant in leading House to approval

Published on: Jan 29, 2014

House members on Wednesday morning with a 251-166 vote approved a new-five year farm bill after an hour of debate, closing up nearly three years of contentious wrangling over food and farm provisions.

The bill will now move on the Senate, where it is expected to be considered in short order.

"This Agricultural Act of 2014 ... makes a commitment to our fellow citizens who are in tough times. But it also assures that the food will be there," Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., noted in closing comments on the floor Wednesday.

"This farm bill may not be defined by most people as a miracle, but it's amazingly close," he said. "Let's complete our responsibilities -- let's show the rest of this place how it's supposed to be done."

Rep. Frank Lucas triumphant in leading House to approval of five-year farm bill
Rep. Frank Lucas triumphant in leading House to approval of five-year farm bill

Farm and commodity groups largely supported the bill, including the American Farm Bureau, the National Corn Growers and the American Soybean Association, citing repeal of direct payments and reforms to crop insurance and safety net provisions.

Receiving considerable praise among several groups were new provisions for fruit and vegetable/specialty crops, livestock disaster assistance and conservation. Funding was also included for ag research and renewable energy projects.

Legislators concerned about the roughly $8 billion in cuts to SNAP that were contained in the report led opposition on the House floor. Among them, Reps. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., and Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said the cuts exacerbated existing cuts that were introduced in November with the expiration of the Recovery Act.

Opposition also existed within the food and ag industry, as key livestock groups the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the National Pork Producers Council said support of Country of Origin Labeling in the bill trumps any livestock disaster assistance measures it includes. Thus, they said they would oppose the entire measure.

On Tuesday, representatives of NPPC and NCBA explained that, in their view, the COOL rules are non-compliant with World Trade Organization regulations and will cause trade retaliation with Canada and Mexico.

The two countries have already disputed COOL regulations, and released lists of items on which they may impose tariffs in retaliation for COOL.

In another declaration of opposition, conservative group Heritage Action lambasted the negotiators for including what they said were "minuscule reforms" to the SNAP program. They also opposed the Agriculture Risk Coverage program and the Price Loss Coverage program.