The House Committee on Rules is scheduled to meet to establish floor debate rules for several bills, including legislation to provide a one-year extension of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (farm bill), with certain modifications and exceptions, and to make supplemental livestock and specialty crop-disaster assistance available for fiscal-years 2012 and 2013. If the Rules Committee adopts a rule for the bill, it would clear the way for House action on the measure as early as Aug. 1. For the legislation to be sent to the president by the beginning of the month-long recess, set to begin the week of Aug. 6, the Senate would have to pass the bill before it adjourns. If the Senate passes a bill that differs from the House package, the two proposals would have to be reconciled and passed by the House and Senate before a final report could be sent to the president.
The disaster-response provisions are estimated to cost $621 million over 10 years and have an estimated net savings of $399 million. To pay for the disaster assistance, the bill would reduce the percentage of farm base acres on which direct payments are made to eligible producers from 85 percent of base acres to 84.5 percent for the 2013 crop year. In addition, the measure would cap spending or acreage for several 2008 farm bill conservation programs: the Environmental Quality Incentives Program is capped at $1.4 billion, down from $1.75 billion; the Conservation Stewardship Program is capped at 11 million acres, down from 12.769 million; the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program is capped at $150 million, down from $200 million; and the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program is capped at $45 million, down from $85 million.
USA Rice Federation continues to track closely farm bill extension and disaster-relief developments.