What is in this article?:
- House farm bill tabbed monumental, revolutionary
- Gridlock overcome
House farm bill lauded as bi-partisan, and the first to save money after passage Wednesday.
Garrett King, aide to U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., saw no need to contain his excitement Wednesday as he discussed passage of a farm bill earlier in the day by a 251-166, bi-partisan vote.
King echoed Chairman Lucas, calling passage of the bill “almost miraculous.” He also cited the bill as “monumental, a tremendous bi-partisan achievement,” and “the first farm bill that saves money.”
King discussed the farm bill during the Red River Crops Conference Wednesday in Altus, Okla.
He said passage of the farm bill was in contrast to complaints that the current legislative session is a “do-nothing Congress. This is an example of getting something done,” he said.
The farm bill is expected to include $23 billion in deficit reduction and achieves a “landmark transition” from direct payments to emphasis on insurance, a change he cited as “revolutionary.”
King said the bill not only “does no harm to crop insurance,” but strengthens it. It also makes livestock support permanent. “A permanently funded livestock program is huge,” he said.
Other achievements include offering farmers options so they can tailor programs to specific crops or conditions. Conservation programs, King said, have been streamlined but strengthened, reducing the number of programs by about half and reducing administrative costs. The bill continues funding for agriculture research and includes a compromise on dairy support — a factor that threatened to derail the bill as late as last week.
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King said savings in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamps, “closed loopholes but still provides for the most vulnerable.”
The miraculous nature of the bill goes back to 2011, when Congress was deadlocked over deficit reductions and turned to a “super committee,” to solve the crisis. “We were in a ‘hurry-up’ process with the farm bill at the time,” King said. “That seems a long time ago. The 2012 farm bill has morphed into the 2013 and now the 2014 bill. “The process is at an end,” he said, assuming the Senate, slated to take up the bill next week, passes it. “Chairman Lucas thinks they will,” he said.