Boehner Endorses House Farm Bill

The House farm bill received a major endorsement on Wednesday when Speaker John A. Boehner announced that he would support the agriculture and nutrition legislation that the chamber is to begin work on this month.

“I’m going to vote for the farm bill to make sure that the good work of the Agriculture Committee and whatever the floor might do to improve this bill gets to a conference so that we can get the kind of changes that people want in our nutrition programs and in our farm programs,” Mr. Boehner said.

Shortly before the Senate voted to approve its version of the farm bill on Monday, Mr. Boehner said he had some issues with the provisions currently in the House version — specifically a program to help dairy farmers — but nevertheless said the measure would be brought up for a vote.

“As a longtime proponent of top-to-bottom reform, my concerns about our country’s farm programs are well known,” Mr. Boehner said in a statement. “But as I said on the day I became speaker, my job isn’t to impose my personal will on this institution or its members.”

Efforts to get a new farm bill have ramped up in recent weeks, after several attempts to get a new bill died last year.

The Senate passed its version of the farm bill last year. The House Agriculture Committee passed a version as well, but Mr. Boehner and the Republican leadership refused to bring it to the floor for a vote, killing any chance of getting a new five-year bill.

The legislation was derailed after Republicans split over the size of cuts to the food stamp program. Last year’s House bill would have cut $16 billion from the farm bill, but many conservatives refused to support it and called for even deeper cuts. This year’s bill will cut about $20 billion from the food stamp program, a move that will almost certainly be rejected by the Senate.

Mr. Boehner said the cuts in the House bill were reform that “both parties know are necessary.”

The recently passed Senate bill cuts $4.1 billion from food stamps.

The House and Senate bills both eliminate the $5 billion-a-year direct payments that go to farmers and farmland owners whether they grow crops or not.

The bills take some of the savings from cutting direct payments and increases subsidies for the crop insurance program, which protects farmers from drops in income or declines in crop yields. Taxpayers pay about 62 percent of the insurance premiums. The policies are sold by 15 private insurance companies, which receive about $1.3 billion annually in total from the government. The government also backs the companies against losses.

Mr. Boehner said he wanted to see the bill move to a House-Senate conference.

Article source: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/12/boehner-endorses-house-farm-bill/?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

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