Some groups, like AFBF, feared the repeal of permanent '30s and '40s laws could effectively end any motivation to renew farm legislation. That was a fear expressed also by House Ag Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., who voted against the bill.
"If you want to make sure congress never considers another farm bill … then vote for this bill," Peterson warned on the House floor. He also reiterated his belief that reviewing the previously proposed legislation that failed on the floor in June would have been the best option.
"I firmly believed that if we could find a way to remove the partisan amendments adopted during the House farm bill debate we would be able to advance a bipartisan bill, conference with the Senate and see it signed into law this year. Now all that is in question," Peterson said.
But Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas stood by the decision of the leadership to move forward with a farm-only bill, viewing it as an opportunity to get to conference. The American Soybean Association took a similar stance.
"ASA is relieved that we will finally see a conference on the farm bill," said Danny Murphy, ASA president. "However today's approval by the House on a partial bill will mean nothing if we can't get a bill back from conference that both chambers will pass. In that sense, there is still much work to be done."
Like Peterson, however, the group also opposed repeal of permanent agricultural policies.
"If only Title 1 of a new farm bill is made permanent, other titles – including conservation, research, energy and trade – would risk not being reauthorized when the bill expires after five years, since Title 1 would remain in place," Murphy explained. "Also, we are very concerned that Title 1 of a new bill could include provisions that would distort plantings and production in years of low prices, and that it would be extremely difficult to change these provisions if the legislation were made permanent."
Following Thursday's passage, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., noted that leaders would work towards a conference on the bill soon, though no timeline was revealed.