USA Rice Producers' Group Chairman and Texas rice producer Linda Raun applauded the 66-27 Senate vote to pass its 2013 farm bill, S. 954. Raun said U.S. rice producers now are positioned to work for passage soon of the House bill, H.R. 1947, when that chamber's floor deliberations commence, possibly as early as next week. USA Rice Federation strongly supports the House committee bill, is coordinating the bill's floor-vote preparations with House leaders and is communicating its views to rice-district House members. USA Rice joined with 193 other organizations in sending a letter to all House members to express "strong support for a new five-year bill and commend the House Committee on Agriculture for advancing a bill for timely action" by the House.
"The USA Rice Federation congratulates Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-MS) for their successful leadership in achieving passage of the Senate's farm bill," Raun said. "We deeply appreciate those rice-state senators who voted for the bill, as well all other senators who supported passage. Rice producers are well prepared to continue the hard work begun over two years ago by now helping to pass a House farm bill soon, which would enable the House and Senate to begin and finish their conference negotiations before the current farm act expires on September 30."
Rice-state Sens. Mark Pryor (D-AR), John Boozman (R-AR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), David Vitter (R-LA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Thad Cochran (R-MS), and Roger Wicker (R-MS) voted for the bill. Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) voted no.
Both bills would authorize programs for five years, from 2014 to 2018, including commodity and risk management policies for the 2014 through 2018 crop years. In total, the House Agriculture Committee bill would cut spending by nearly $40 billion, including termination of direct payments to producers, like the Senate proposes. The Senate's bill would reduce total spending by $24 billion. The House committee's farm safety net would offer producers the choice of either price-loss coverage or revenue-loss coverage. S. 954 would change the farm safety net by providing an Adverse Market Payments policy for producers.
Like the Senate bill, the House committee legislation would consolidate conservation programs and retain export market development and food-aid programs. Both bills would reform the food stamp program, but the House would make more program changes and reduce spending significantly more than the Senate.
The adoption of S. 954 marks the second year in a row the Senate has approved a bipartisan, budget-saving, five-year farm bill. Last year's Senate vote was 65-34. In 2012, the House did not take up its committee-passed farm bill. Earlier this year, Congress extended the 2008 farm act to Sept. 30, 2013, in the absence of a final compromise bill from the House and Senate and following expiration of the 2008 statute on Sept. 30, 2012.
Forty-six Democrats, 18 Republicans and two Independents voted for S. 954, while two Democrats and 25 Republicans opposed the bill.
The Congressional Research Service has released a report that compares the policies and costs of the House and Senate committee bills.
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