Farm Bill Conference Report Expected Monday

Leaders are ready to unveil an agreement on farm bill provisions, reports say

Published on: Jan 27, 2014

Farm bill conferees are prepared to unveil a conference report on Monday, Erik Wasson reports for The Hill.

Sticking points included farm subsidies and crop insurance, in addition to food stamp requirements and funding levels.

According to Wasson, country of origin labeling was also a hot topic in the negotiations, as well as a measure from Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, that dealt with interstate commerce and questions of other states' ability to regulate production conditions for animal products and other agricultural items.

IS TODAY THE DAY? Leaders are ready to unveil an agreement on farm bill provisions, reports say
IS TODAY THE DAY? Leaders are ready to unveil an agreement on farm bill provisions, reports say

Payment limits, which cap farm subsidies for individuals at $125,000 or married couples at $250,000, and defines eligibility rules for subsidy recipients, were reportedly set for scale-back in conference discussion. Wasson reports, however, that they have been retained for the most part, though PLC, ARC or marketing loan deficiency payments within that total have been removed.

Eligibility requirements are also reportedly different:

"The compromise also changes restrictions on the so-called 'actively engaged' provision. The criteria for management has been strengthened compared to current law, a source said, but the provision appears be scaled back from the labor requirement in the earlier versions of the bills."

Several groups fervently backed the payment limits, including the Center for Rural Affairs and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

Read more: Group Backs Farm Bill Payment Limits, Urges Farmers to Weigh In

NSAC said late last week that original language passed in the House and Senate should be retained, as it says a farmer who provides land, capital or equipment and works on the farm at least half-time or for at least half of their commensurate share of the operation is eligible for payments, plus one additional manager – rather than making 5 or 10 managers eligible for payments.

"The additional recipient would not have been eligible under previous reform proposals or under the recommendations of the Government Accountability Office in their reports on the abuse of the payment limitation law," NSAC said. "It was added as a good faith effort at compromise." (Read more of NSAC's position statement here.)

The Center for Rural Affairs on Monday claimed that new rules suggested by the lead negotiators would not close the loopholes that "currently allow large, wealthy farms to collect many multiples of the normal payment limit."