At long last, the House Committee on Agriculture and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry both marked up farm bills this week. But there are many miles to go before this legislation ever reaches home.
The Associated Press has a summary of several key differences in the main provisions (with dollar amounts stated on a per year basis).
In a partisan division that we saw already last year, when this legislation was still over-optimistically known as the "2012 Farm Bill," the House committee proposes deeper cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) than the Senate committee does. The House committee proposes to cut $2 billion per year, while the Senate committee proposes to cut $0.4 billion per year. The Republican committee leaders in the House sought the deeper SNAP cuts in part so they could move slower on budget cuts to direct payments for cotton farmers (largely in the South), and in part so they could accommodate the strong anti-food-stamp sentiment among some Republican legislators on the floor. Yet, these deep SNAP cuts may make it difficult to reach eventual agreement with the Democratic-led Senate, leading to possible continuation of the years-long impasse over U.S. food and farm policy.
For the Senate committee bill, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition summarizes provisions of interest to producers interested in sustainable production practices, especially at the local and regional level. For the House committee bill, Politico reports on the political angles. The Hagstrom Report (gated, but valuable) is working overtime this week, and the FarmPolicy blog links to many national and regional media sources.