Senate farm bill release imminent as leaders reach agreement
The Senate farm bill release will be “maybe tonight, maybe tomorrow morning,” a key Senate aide told The Hagstrom Report Thursday afternoon as details of the agreement between Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., began to leak out.
Roberts and Stabenow earlier on Thursday announced a markup next Wednesday.
The committee has obviously wrestled with the key commodity title programs, Price Loss Coverage and Agriculture Risk Coverage. A senate aide told The Hagstrom Report late Wednesday that the commodity title was one of the last items under negotiation.
The Congressional Budget Office has projected that due to the lower commodity prices, those who have been enrolled in the Agriculture Risk Coverage program would be expected to switch to the Price Loss Coverage program, which could provide higher price-related benefits than the Agriculture Risk Coverage program, which is based on incomes that have been going down.
Agri-Pulse reported that the draft bill would leave the Price Loss Coverage program alone and make relatively minor improvements to the Agriculture Risk Coverage program.
Roberts resisted pleas by Midwest senators to overhaul ARC and PLC to make ARC more attractive to corn growers, Agri-Pulse said. Roberts said those changes, which included a mandated update to base acreage, would have harmed growers in other states, including his home state and the south, Agri-Pulse added.
The bill would tighten the means test for commodity programs, reducing the adjusted gross income to qualify for subsidies from $900,000 to $700,000 a year, Agri-Pulse said, while Politico reported that Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, plans to offer a payment limits amendment.
The Conservation Reserve Program would be allowed to expand to 25 million acres, up from the 24 million-acre limit set by the 2014 farm bill, while the house bill would raise the cap to 29 million acres, Agri-Pulse said.
The bill is not expected to include either the work requirements or the reduction in categorical eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program but is expected to tighten up on eligibility and fraud.
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