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Friday, June 28, 2013

The 2013 Farm Bill: A Comparison of the Senate-Passed Bill (S. 954) and House- Reported Bill (H.R. 1947) with Current Law

Ralph M. Chite, Coordinator
Section Research Manager

Congress periodically establishes agricultural and food policy in an omnibus farm bill. The 113
th Congress faces reauthorization of the current five-year farm bill (the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, P.L. 110-246), since many of its provisions expire in 2013. The 2008 farm bill originally expired in 2012, but the 112th Congress did not complete action on a new farm bill and instead extended most authorities and funding for one additional year in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (the fiscal cliff bill, P.L. 112-240). The 2008 farm bill contains titles that cover farm commodity support, horticulture, livestock, conservation, nutrition assistance, international trade and food aid, agricultural research, farm credit, rural development, bioenergy, and forestry.

The Senate Agriculture Committee approved its version of an omnibus 2013 farm bill (S. 954, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013) by a vote of 15-5 on May 14, 2013. The next day, the House Agriculture Committee conducted markup of its own version of the farm bill (H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013) and approved the amended bill by a vote of 36-10. Floor action on the Senate bill began during the week of May 20, 2013, and was completed on June 10, 2013, when the full Senate approved the bill by a vote of 66-27. The full House is expected to consider H.R. 1947 during the week of June 17.

Within the 12 titles of S. 954 and H.R. 1947 are provisions that would reshape the structure of farm commodity support, expand crop insurance coverage, consolidate conservation programs, revise the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), and extend authority to appropriate funds for many U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) discretionary programs through FY2018. Both farm bills would eliminate direct payments to farmers, and revise (and rename) counter-cyclical price and revenue programs, to enhance price or revenue protection for producers.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that the mandatory programs of the 2008 farm bill, if they were to continue, would cost $973 billion over the next 10 years (FY2014-FY2023). This baseline has been reduced by $6.4 billion to reflect the effects of sequestration. Compared to this “baseline,” S. 954, as passed, would reduce spending by $18 billion (-1.9%); and the House Agriculture Committee-reported bill, H.R. 1947, would reduce it by $33 billion (-3.4%). The bills differ most notably in their estimated reductions to SNAP spending. The House-reported bill proposes to restrict categorical eligibility (estimated to reduce SNAP spending by approximately $11.6 billion over 10 years), whereas the Senate-passed bill does not include such a restriction.

This report provides a side-by-side comparison of every provision in the House Agriculture Committee-reported and Senate-passed farm bills with each other and with current law or policy, as amended and extended by the fiscal cliff bill.

Date of Report: June 14, 2013
Number of Pages: 163
Order Number: R43076
Price: $29.95

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