Farm bill debates in the House and Senate Ag Committees will begin this week – May 14 in the Senate and May 15 in the House. Senate leaders would like to bring the bill to the floor before the end of the month, but the floor debate in the House will probably be delayed until late summer or even later.

The bills that get passed –if they get passed – may be very different overall, but the structure of the commodity programs may be similar:

  • The House Agriculture Committee bill may cut $20 billion from food and nutrition programs, with amendments to cut even more likely when the bill reaches the House floor.
  • The Senate version may cut food and nutrition programs by only $4 billion, with amendments on the floor to restore full funding. Reconciling these huge differences will be very difficult.

A group of 44 conservation and agriculture organizations have agreed on a plan that would link conservation compliance to crop insurance. The groups are asking members of Congress to include their compromise in the draft farm bills.

Under the proposal, a farmer could lose eligibility for government premium subsidies if they violate the conservation compliance mandate. But the groups want to head off efforts to impose payment limits, base subsidies on farm income levels, or reduce the current level of premium subsidies.

Last year the full Senate approved an amendment that would have reduced premium subsidies by 15 percent for farmers with adjusted gross incomes of $750,000 of more. It is not clear that the plan will be a part of the farm bill considered in either House of Congress.