In an all day mark-up session that concluded at 1:00 a.m., House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas (Okla.), supported by the committee's Ranking Member Collin Peterson (Minn.), skillfully managed the mark-up of the House version of the 2012 Farm Bill to a final vote of 35-11 with a strong bi-partisan majority. The attention is now focused on the House Republican leadership to allow floor debate on the bill before the House breaks in about three weeks to begin its August recess.
"The bill includes the marketing loan provisions for wool and the extension of the disaster programs that are very important to U.S sheep producers," said Peter Orwick, executive director of the American Sheep Industry Association. "The committee included in its report the majority of the legislative issues that the industry requested."
House Speaker Boehner (Ohio) was questioned about his attentions toward the consideration of the Farm Bill before Congress recesses. His response was noncommittal. He praised Chairman Lucas's leadership in getting a Farm Bill from committee acknowledging that he likes part of the bill and not other parts.
The Farm Bill, as reported by the committee, provided approximately $35 billion in savings over 10 years achieved through a major rewrite of commodity programs and cuts from food stamps and other feeding programs. The House reported bill differs significantly from the Senate-passed Farm Bill in several areas. The House maintained traditional target price programs, which are more favorable to rice and peanut programs than in the Senate-passed bill and, of significance to many members of the House as the bill makes its way to the floor, the House bill cuts approximately $16.5 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and nutrition programs compared with the $4.5 billion in savings from these programs in the Senate-passed bill.
There are only 11 legislative days before the August break, so if the Farm Bill is going to be considered prior to the recess, it will have to happen soon. The current Farm Bill expires on Sept. 30.