The Senate and House released their versions of the farm bill last week. By size (1102 v. 576 pages) and extent of budget cuts ($23 billion v. $40 billion), these are incompatible. I’m guessing that getting them passed and reconciled will require major compromises—hard to imagine for this dysfunctional Congress.
The Congressional Budget Office, according to the Hagstrom Report, estimates that the Senate bill will cost $955 billion from 2014 to 2023, and the House bill will cost $940 billion—but roughly $100 billion a year for the next 10 years. Much is at stake.
To get up to speed, here are the relevant documents on the Senate side:
- Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 (Senate version—1102 pages)
- Senate Agriculture Committee, Title-by-Title Summary
- Senator Debbie Stabenow (Dem-MI) brief summary
And here are the parallel documents on the House side:
- Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2013 (House Version—a mere 576 pages)
- House Ag Committee Titile-by-Title Summary
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), ever optimistic, has produced a report, The Healthy Farm: A Vision for U.S. Agriculture, identifying ways that the farm bill could—if there were any political will—support an agricultural system focused on producing abundant, affordable, and healthy food and on protecting the environment (also see its interactive healthy farm and take action sites).
During the coming days, I’ll take a stab at interpreting key pieces of the proposed bills. Stay tuned.
2:00 p.m. addition: Jerry Hagstrom says the Senate Agriculture Committee has approved the farm bill by a vote of 15 to 5. Senators Roberts, McConnell, Johanns, Thune and Gillibrand voted no. OK. Now let’s see what the House does tomorrow.