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Congress Still Considering Farm Bill, Other Actions

Meanwhile, their federal counterparts are working on a variety of issues, attempting to better position themselves for November elections, all promising their policies will pull the U.S. away from the “economic cliff” it is teetering on before it breaks for August recess.

Dozens of farm state Republicans are pushing House Speaker John Boehner to schedule a vote on the Farm Bill before August 4.  Drought conditions throughout the country have put additional pressure on elected officials from these states to find solutions to help farmers through difficult times.  Last week, the House Agriculture Committee completed Farm Bill markup. Unlike the Senate version, the House bill did not include mandatory funds for certain Energy Titles. After more than 100 amendments were offered and considered, an amendment to provide mandatory funds for rural energy programs was introduced, but then withdrawn. The bill moves next to the House floor for further debate and amendment.

On July 12 the committee completed the markup, approving the bill (H.R. 6083) with a bipartisan vote of 35-11. Some changes included in the bill are the reduction of mandatory spending on nutrition, agriculture, conservation, and rural energy programs by a total of $35 billion over the next ten years, including cuts of $16 billion from nutrition programs, $14 billion from commodity support programs, and $6 billion from conservation programs.

As it stands, the bill provides no mandatory funding for bioenergy and other renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, unlike the 2008 Farm Bill which provided more than $1 billion in mandatory spending for the industry.

There are opportunities for the bill to be amended during floor debates. As reported by EESI, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) has introduced Rural Energy Investment Act of 2012 (H.R. 5955), which would provide $1.25 billion in mandatory spending and $1.4 billion in discretionary spending for energy title programs. The bill currently has 19 cosponsors. It is uncertain whether the House leadership will bring the bill to the floor for debate before the August recess.

Click here for more information on the House Farm Bill.