Farm Bill Moving Forward…Long way from Done

Well, we’re moving through 2012 fairly quickly and as April rapidly moves to a close, the rumor mill has been flying regarding a new Farm Bill. The House and the Senate are on pretty different timetables for passage of a bill.

We’ll start with the House since they are further away from any substantive legislation. The House is holding Subcommittee hearings over the next few weeks. This puts consideration of an actual bill well into the summer. They will also be monitoring the Senate fairly closely to see what happens there.

The real activity of late has been in the Senate. Late last week Chairwoman Stabenow released the Chairman’s Mark. This is the starting point from which the Senate Ag Committee will work. The National Cotton Council has put together aSenate Ag Com NCC summary 4-12pdf that will likely affect the producers in the cotton belt. They have also put together a Senate Farm Bill Side-by-Side 4-12 of the farm bill to show how the cotton STAX program differs from the ARC. It had been rumored that a cotton only provision (STAX) would be left out of the bill but, at least for now, the STAX program for cotton is still in tact in a very similar form to what had been included in the SuperCommittee work in December. You will recall that was when STAX was born.

Direct Payments and Counter Cyclical Programs are gone. Any hope of those programs has been quashed pretty finally with this mark. The new general commodity program is a revenue program that is called the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC). The ARC is in the commodity title while the Cotton STAX program is in the Crop Insurance Title. Key issues in the commodity program for cotton is the maintenance of the storage credits as well as the loan. The Loan will be the Adjusted World Price but will be set at a maximum of 52 cents and a minimum of 47 cents.

The Senate will now be going through full committee markup later this week… likely Wednesday and Thursday. It will be then that we see significant changes to the chairman’s mark. If STAX makes it through this process there is a pretty good chance it will make it through the rest of the Senate process. For a full summary of STAX, please to to the National Cotton Council’s site.

There is a long way to go before seeing a Farm Bill pass either House or Senate and even longer before a final bill is drafted. We will keep you informed as changes are made.