Farm Bill update

Cornerstone’s 2012 Farm Bill Report

No. 4 – July 12, 2012

The House Agriculture Committee reported its version of the 2012 Farm Bill H.R. 6083 – The Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act – VERY early this morning by a vote of 35 to 11. While some details of the committee’s action will become clearer when  the committee report is made public, we can provide basic information with respect to Title VII, which provides basic statutory authorities for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Mandatory Funding

As shown in the following table, the House bill provides mandatory funding for three Title VII programs whose funding expires in 2012: (1) Organic Agriculture Research and Extension; (2) Specialty Crops Research Initiative; and (3) Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development.

Title VII Programs with Mandatory Funding: FY 2013 to FY 2017 (All $M)

2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 Total
Organic Ag Research & Extension 16 16 16 16 16 80
Specialty Crops Research 25 30 30 65 50 200
Beginning Farmer & Rancher Develop. 10 10 10 10 10 50
Total 51 56 56 91 76 330

Beyond the amounts listed above, the bill also creates permanent baseline funding of $50 million per year for the Specialty Crops Research Program for fiscal years 2018 to 2022. The House bill does not include the Foundation for Agriculture and Food Research that was authorized in the Senate bill (and provided $100 million in mandatory funding).

Expiring NIFA Authorities

Many of the legislative authorities for research, extension, and higher education programs expire at the end of FY 2012 (Sept. 30, 2012), and the system has been communicating for many months with both the Senate and House concerning these expiring provisions. As mentioned in our previous reports, most of our reauthorization requests have been favorably received. We are in the process of preparing a side-by-side comparison of our requests to both the Senate-passed bill and the House mark. That comparison will be posted to the website within the next few days.

Amendments Offered

The markup of Title VII occurred during the early evening of July 11 and proceeded quickly. While several amendments had been filed, only a handful were considered, and just two adopted. The two adopted amendments would: (1) establish under the authority of the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program a “grant priority for veteran-farmer rehabilitation programs and restore critical provisions within the program that foster partnerships with community-based organizations who work directly with farmers; and (2) authorize ongoing federal bed bug research funding.

NIFA Competitive Grants Matching Requirements

The House bill as reported by the Agriculture Committee contains language (Section 7127) related to matching fund requirements for NIFA competitive grants. This language, as you probably know, has generated a vigorous discussion since it was made public a week ago. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) had an amendment to strike Section 7127, but it was withdrawn after committee discussion. During the debate, Committee Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) had a “colloquy” on the record about this provision. Because of widespread interest in this matter, we have attached the Lucas-Peterson colloquy to the end of this report.