The National Corn Growers Association thanked members of the House of Representatives for quick passage today of the 2014 farm bill, the Agricultural Act of 2014. The bill passed the lower chamber with a 251-166 vote.
"We're thrilled to see today's action on the part of the House and look forward to an equally fast consideration in the Senate," said NCGA President Martin Barbre, who observed the floor vote from the House gallery while visiting the Capitol. "This legislation provides an adequate and flexible farm safety net, as well as a strong federal crop insurance program. More importantly, farmers need the certainty of a new five-year law, and we are happy to see this legislation includes many reforms we've supported and stressed over the years, reforms that make sense both for farmers and taxpayers."
Among other specific provisions, the bill:
•Eliminates controversial direct payments while maintaining decoupled farm support programs that will minimize the possibility of planting and production distortions that could trigger new World Trade Organization challenges.
•Allows farmer to either maintain existing crop acreage base or to reallocate their current base to reflect average acres planted to covered commodities in 2009-2012, a reform that will make programs more relevant and more defensible while not tying them to current-year plantings.
•Consolidates 23 previous conservation programs into 13, and focuses conservation efforts on working lands. It also ties conservation compliance for wetlands and highly erodible land to premium support for crop insurance.
•Maintains authorizations for important agricultural research programs, including AFRI, as well as including a new Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research that will provide a structure and mandatory funding for new public/private partnerships and investments that will further USDA's research mission.
•Maintains authorizations and funding levels for export promotion, including the Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program and the Market Access Program (MAP).
•Continues the combined authorization of both agricultural and nutrition programs, a linkage that has been essential in enacting every farm bill since 1974.