SMITH VOTES FOR FARM BILL, JOHANNS A LIKELY YES IN SENATE

Posted 9 months ago

By John Axtell

Farm Bill 2014The House today passed the massive, five-year farm bill on a vote of 251-166, sending the almost $100 billion-a-year compromise crafted by a conference committee on to the Senate.

The measure had solid backing from the House GOP leadership, even though it makes smaller cuts to food stamps than they would have liked… about $800 million a year or around 1% instead of the 5% or $4-billion reduction in the original House version.

Nebraska 3rd District Congressman Adrian Smith gave a brief 1-minute speech on the floor ahead of the vote, urging his colleagues to pass the bill that’s been more than 3-years in the making.


The new bill still heavily subsidizes major cropsincluding corn, soybeans, wheat, rice and cotton, but moves many of the subsidies into crop insurance programs. It also eliminates so-called direct payments, the $4.5 billion-a-year subsidy currently paid to farmers whether they farm or not.

Smith said that like any compromise, the bill isn’t perfect…with several trade and livestock provisions missing…but would provide the long-term stability needed in agriculture.

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The Farm Bill is expected to pass the Senate as well, but that’s not guaranteed since even some farm state lawmakers don’t like it or at least parts of it.

One of those is Nebraska Republican and former Ag Secretary Mike Johanns, who told the syndicated Agri-Talk program Tuesday that he’d prefer an extension of the expired farm bill to this compromise version.

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Johanns called it a “1980′s farm policy approach” with a huge cost to the taxpayer by leading farmers to produce themselves into low prices because they won’t be taking signals from the market.

 Johanns clarified his position today, saying that while the bill isn’t perfect, it does some good things for Nebraska and his “preliminary assessment” has him feeling it he can and will vote for it.

It does reopen several federal programs allowing Nebraska and South Dakota farmers and ranchers hit hard by the Oct 4th blizzard to apply for emergency relief and support from the federal government, backdated to when the programs initially expired in 2011.

The bill also allow growers to choose between two types of farm safety nets: a revenue-based agriculture risk coverage program and a price-loss coverage program.

The choice can be important for growers of crops such as corn whose yields can fluctuate wildly because of natural disasters such as floods, droughts, and storms.