July 18, 2013 — Last week’s action by the U.S. House of Representatives means there is still a chance a new farm bill can be passed in 2013. Chris Galen from the National Milk Producers Federation reported the latest progress on Thursday’s DairyLine:
Galen: Well there’s progress being made toward getting a new bill, and that’s what we have to keep our eyes on; that’s the prize. What the House did last week is they just dealt with the farm programs and they passed a seriously flawed bill because it contains the Goodlatte-Scott dairy amendment. It also repeals permanent law and we think that neither of those two things that the House has passed is in the interests of dairy farmers.
We really had to hold our nose about the process last week, because we realized that that is not the end of the discussion, it’s not the end of the story. The action last week in the House means we can still get a new farm bill passed yet in 2013 before the end of September when the current programs expire. If the House had not taken any action last week, we really would have been up a creek without a paddle.
Now we’re looking at a Conference Committee, which we expect will start meeting here in the coming weeks, and this is going to reconcile the differences between the Senate bill which passed earlier in the summer, and the House bill which passed last week. We think that the opportunity is quite good for the Senate version of the dairy program containing the Dairy Security Act to be in the final version. We’re going to continue working with our champions, the leaders of both the Senate and House Agriculture Committees to make certain that the Conference Committee ultimately includes the Dairy Security Act in whatever emerges from that committee.
DairyLine: It’s going to be interesting to see how the Senate and House hammer things out, particularly the dairy aspects of the Farm Bill.
Galen: Yes, there will be a choice between the Senate version and the House version. We feel that we have made and are continuing to make a case for why you need to have the Dairy Security Act, with its market insurance, which provides better coverage, but also for the market stabilization element to be in there as well, which the house version does not have. We know that we’ve gotten a receptive audience previously when we’ve discussed the need for market stabilization with the leaders of the Senate Agriculture committee, as well as in the House Ag committee, so those are the people who will be sitting down here in the coming weeks to iron out the differences between this and the two bills.
DairyLine: Another challenge is that time is running out, as the August recess is just around the corner?
Galen: We’ve got about two and a half weeks yet before both the House and the Senate goes on their traditional August recess, so we’re really hoping that we’ll have much more clarity before that starts here at the beginning of August. If they wait until after Labor Day, which is when everyone formally gets back to town, then that doesn’t give them a lot of time to pass whatever comes out of the Conference Committee. It has to pass the House and Senate before the President can sign it. Again, Labor Day, even though it’s early in September this year, doesn’t give them a lot of time between then and when the Farm Bill expires in on September 30th.