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House Cuts Conservation Programs for Farm Bill Extension

House Cuts Conservation Programs for Farm Bill Extension
The House rules committee will consider a bill to extend the current farm bill for one year. Disaster help is part of the package.

This afternoon the House Rules Committee said it will be considering a bill to provide a one-year extension of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, with certain modifications and exceptions, to make supplemental agricultural disaster assistance available for fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

House Agriculture Committee chairman Frank Lucas' office said the cost of the bill is estimated at $621 million over 10 years with a net savings of $399 million.

MORE WORK NEEDED: House committee plans to pay for a farm bill extension with conservation funds. Move includes disaster help for the drought.

House Republicans do not have party line support for a five-year farm bill, which has made leaders reluctant to bring it to the floor for a vote. In his weekly press conference Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) said he believed the House would address the livestock disaster situation before going home in August and a vote may come as early as Wednesday.

The Committee on Rules will meet on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 5:00 p.m. to consider the measure.

"Next week's schedule calls for consideration of a package that includes disaster assistance programs and a one-year extension of current farm policy.  It is critical that we provide certainty to our producers and address the devastating drought conditions that are affecting most of the country and I look forward to supporting and advancing this legislation," said Lucas.

Section 1 of the bill provides a one-year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill with certain modifications.

Section 2 includes the Supplemental Agricultural Disaster Assistance. Lucas said this would reauthorize the livestock disaster policies which expired in September 2011 for fiscal years 2012 and 2013. This legislation would re-authorize these policies for fiscal years 2012 and 2013.  Specifically, Livestock Indemnity Payments (LIP), Livestock Forage Disaster Programs (LFP), Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish (ELAP), and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) are all generally reauthorized.

Lucas's office said to pay for this disaster assistance, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program is capped at $1.4 billion; the Conservation Stewardship Program is capped at 11 million acres; the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program is capped at $150 million; and the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) is capped at $45 million. 

"These offsets are consistent with levels previously established by enacted appropriations—which reduced levels authorized by the Agriculture Committees—and will still allow these important programs to function at recent funding levels.  In addition, direct payments—which are currently paid on 85% of a producer's base acres—is paid on 84.5% as a partial offset," he said.

Read the full proposed bill here.

Source: Feedstuffs

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