Feb 15 2013
Chairman plans to start with bill Ag Committee passed last year
By Denise Ross
The U.S. House Agriculture Committee is likely to roll up its sleeves for work on the farm bill this spring, Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., told reporters Thursday.
“It will be sooner this spring rather than later into the summer,” Noem said after meeting with Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla.
House leaders failed to get the Agriculture Committee’s bill to the floor for a vote last year even after the farm bill expired at the end of September. The Senate did pass a bill, but its provisions differed significantly from what came out of the House committee. House leaders had said they didn’t have enough votes to pass a farm bill.
With a new Congress starting work after the 2012 elections, new legislation must be introduced as the process starts anew. After Congress deals with budget crises, including the so-called “sequestration” set to hit on March 1, the House Agriculture Committee “will immediately go to work on a farm bill,” Noem said, possibly as soon as April.
Noem said Chairman Lucas has told committee members to review the bill the committee passed last year, as he intends to use that as a starting point during the “mark-up” process.
“He has told new members to make themselves familiar with that legislation,” said Noem, who is a member of the committee.
When asked about a newly announced plan by Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., to eliminate direct payments to farmers as a way to satisfy needed budget cuts, Noem said she hadn’t reviewed the details. But she is not opposed to the concept.
“Those eliminations were included in the House version of the farm bill,” she said.
Then, after a pointed critique of President Obama’s State of the Union speech for failure to outline budget cuts, Noem said she would resist any cuts to ag programs.
“Agriculture has given up cuts several times recently. There are other places in our federal budget to find reforms,” Noem said.
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