On Wednesday, July 11th, the House Agriculture Committee passed the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act (HR 6083) – known as the 2012 Farm Bill -- by a vote of 36-11. The Committee worked past midnight to debate 100 amendments on all titles of the Farm Bill, including a bipartisan dairy amendment, sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Rep. David Scott (D-GA).
After opening statements by the chairman and ranking member of the House Ag Committee, the committee debated the Goodlatte/D. Scott amendment that would provide margin protection for dairy farmers without also mandating that they enroll in and fund a supply management program. The sponsors noted that the amendment would help reduce price volatility in dairy markets without limiting the growth of the dairy industry. For 90 percent of all dairy farmers, the Goodlatte/D. Scott program would cost less than the underlying bill without requiring them to tamp down on their production.
Although the amendment failed by a vote of 17-29, it received the support of a majority of Republicans, of the Chairman of the Dairy Subcommittee, of Representative Reid Ribble whose district has the most dairy farmers of any member on the committee, and a second Democrat, Representative Marcia Fudge of Ohio. Both Mr. Goodlatte and Mr. Scott have since indicated that they will continue to fight for dairy policy that allows the market to work without creating more government regulation. “IDFA thanks Mr. Goodlatte and Mr. Scott for the valiant effort to sponsor an amendment for common sense, sound dairy policy that would not penalize dairy farmers who want to grow their business,” said Jerry Slominski, IDFA senior vice president for legislative affairs and economic policy.
In response to the Farm Bill passing the House Agriculture Committee, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was quoted saying, "There are some good reforms in this bill. There are other parts of the farm bill that I have concerns with… we’ve got a Soviet-style dairy program in America today and one of the proposals in this farm bill would actually make it worse.”
Although it remains unclear when Speaker Boehner will bring the Farm Bill to the floor, IDFA believes that the strong showing in committee and the interest shown by the Speaker of the House give the Goodlatte/D.Scott amendment a fighting chance of passing when the bill is debated by the full House of Representatives.
For more information, contact Slominski at firstname.lastname@example.org.