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Congress Leaves Town with Disaster Relief, Farm Bill Still in Limbo

Aug 08, 2012

Congress finished its summer session last week, so legislators have returned to their home districts and states for the month of August. They will take this time to travel their districts, talk to constituents and prepare for the November election. In light of the severe drought across the country, the Farm Bill is one of the hot topics that will likely be discussed.      

Without sufficient votes to pass a one-year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill, the House of Representatives moved forward before heading home and passed a disaster relief bill, called the Agricultural Disaster Assistance Act of 2012, by a vote of 223-197. This bill reauthorizes the following programs: Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-raised Fish (ELAP), Livestock Indemnity Payments (LIP), Livestock Forage Disaster Programs (LFP) and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP).

The Senate adjourned before taking up the House-passed disaster relief bill, and Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), who is against any sort of extension, vowed to work through August to come up with a compromise between the House and Senate Farm Bills for passage in September.

Major Divide Remains

In the meantime, a major divide remains in the House between Democratic members who do not support cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, included in the committee-passed Farm Bill and conservative members who think those cuts should be more severe.

It is no surprise that dairy continues to be a controversial issue. IDFA applauds House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) for his floor speech last Thursday afternoon, urging members of the House to debate the Farm Bill on the House floor under regular order when they return in September. Others have called for conferencing the bill passed by the Senate with the bill passed by the House committee without a vote on the House floor.

For more information, contact Chelsee Woodey, IDFA director of legislative affairs, at

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