PDF _ RL31195 - The 2002 Farm Bill: Overview and Status
3-May-2002; Geoffrey S. Becker, Jasper Womach; 33 p.

Update: On May 2, 2002, the House voted, 280 to 141, to approve the conference report on a 6-year omnibus farm bill (H.R. 2646; H.Rept. 107-424). The Senate is expected to vote on the conference report shortly, and the President announced on May 2 that he would sign the bill into law. Late on April 25, 2002, the chairmen of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees announced that they had reached a tentative compromise on the bill, which had been in a conference committee since March. The Senate had approved its omnibus 5-year (2002-2006) farm bill (reported as S. 1731 and passed as H.R. 2646) on February 13, 2002, by a vote of 58 to 40. The full House, on October 5, 2001, had approved (by a vote of 291-120) its new 10-year omnibus farm bill (H.R. 2646). The bill would have extended major farm, food, and related programs through 2011. (See also House, Senate, and Conference Farm Bills Compared: Selected Highlights in the CRS Agriculture Policy and Farm Bill Briefing Book, and the farm bill information, including the final language and statement of managers, posted on the House Agriculture Committee and Senate Agriculture Committee websites.)

Abstract: [Formerly IB10085]

Federal farm support, nutrition, agricultural trade and food aid, conservation, credit, marketing, rural development, agricultural research, and related policies are governed by a variety of separate laws. Although these laws may be considered and as free-standing legislation, many of them are evaluated periodically, revised, and renewed through an omnibus, multi-year farm bill. The Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform (FAIR) Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-127) was the most recent omnibus farm bill, and many of its provisions expire in 2002.

After several days of debate and amendments, the full House approved, on October 5, 2001, an omnibus, 10-year farm bill (through 2011) based largely on the measure (H.R. 2646) reported in early August by the House Agriculture Committee. In the Senate, the Agriculture Committee approved, on November 15, 2001, a 5-year bill (through 2006). The Senate bill (originated in committee as S. 1731) could be subject to numerous amendments when it goes to the Senate floor, possibly shortly.

Although they differ in detail and rates of support, both the House and Senate committee bills set a commodity-based support policy that would: provide fixed payments, new counter-cyclical assistance tied to target prices (a guaranteed per-bushel pricing system which had been eliminated in 1996), and marketing loans for grains, cotton, and oilseeds; and continue planting flexibility with no supply controls. Both would extend, with some modifications, dairy and sugar support (the Senate adds new direct payments for dairy); and terminate peanut quotas by establishing a support program like that for major crops. Both bills also contain titles (although somewhat differing ones) that expand conservation program funding; reauthorize agricultural export and food aid programs; and amend and extend research, nutrition (food stamps), credit, and rural development activities, among others.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that the House bill would create new spending, over 10 years, of $73.5 billion, over and above baseline estimates (budget authority). Of this, $48.8 billion would be new money for farm commodity programs and another $15.8 billion for conservation. CBO has estimated that the Senate bill would create new 10-year spending (above baseline, budget authority) of $73.4 billion ($40.9 billion above the baseline during the 5-year life of the bill, 2002-2006). Of this, $43.2 billion would be new money for farm commodity programs ($26.3 billion for 5 years), and another $20.5 billion for conservation ($8.4 billion for 5 years). [read report]

Topics: Agriculture

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