Status update on 2012 Farm Bill & Disaster Assistance Bill

By Janice, Corn Commentary
National Association Corn Growers

This year’s farm bill actions have been difficult to keep track of, even for those of us that live inside the beltway and work on this issue almost every day. NCGA has been working on the 2012 farm bill for almost four years and Congress began its formal work on the legislation this year. But as drought conditions throughout the U.S. increasingly worsened, a disaster assistance package was also thrown into the mix, creating confusion for many.

Both pieces of legislation are extremely important to farmers across the country, and Congress has taken steps on each. However, there is still work to be done. To help differentiate between them, here is a quick summary of where we are – and what still needs to be done to get both the farm bill and disaster assistance package signed into law.

Where we are on the 2012 farm bill:

The Senate Agriculture Committee and the full Senate have both passed the legislation with a strong bipartisan vote.
The House Agriculture Committee passed a different version of the 2012 farm bill, but it has not been debated or considered by the entire House of Representatives. Floor time has also not been scheduled.

What still needs to happen?

First, the full House of Representatives will need to vote on and pass the legislation as quickly as possible when they return from August recess.
Afterwards, House and Senate conferees will work out the differences between the two bills and reach a suitable compromise.
The final bill, or conference report, would then need to be voted on and passed by both chambers of Congress.
President Obama would then either sign the bill into law or veto it, sending it back to Congress.
The current law (the 2008 farm bill) expires September 30.

Where we are on the drought disaster assistance bill:

The full House of Representatives passed this legislation prior to leaving for August recess, and did so with minimal changes.
The full Senate has not considered the legislation.

What still needs to happen?

The full Senate will need to vote on and pass the legislation.
If there are differences between the House and Senate versions, a similar path will be used for conferees.
President Obama would then sign the bill into law or veto it, sending it back to Congress.

One important fact to point out is that the Senate version of the 2012 farm bill, which has been passed, does include disaster assistance programs. However, in light of this year’s challenges, they may want to revisit these programs to include additional provisions for livestock and specialty crop producers.

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