Congressional recess is scheduled to begin August 6, and the House has yet to vote on the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012, more commonly referred to as the 2012 farm bill. On June 21, the bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support; on July 19, Nancy Pelosi delivered a letter urging timely movement by the House so that President Obama could sign a final bill prior to September 30, when the 2008 farm bill is set to expire.
The farm bill is up for renewal as U.S. farmers face the worst drought in seven decades, threatening a drastic rise in the price of corn, and as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participation has seen an increase from 28 million participants in 2008 to 46 million in 2012.
The farm bill provides for agricultural subsidies, SNAP benefits, and emergency food assistance. Among this year’s provisions are Sec. 1431, the establishment of a Dairy Market Stabilization Program, which would aid in “balancing the supply of milk with demand when producers are experiencing low or negative operating margins”; Sec. 4204, which “renews funding for the whole grain products program at $10 million for two years”; and Sec. 7103, which provides for a $10 million Veterinary Services Grant Program.
The 2012 farm bill would have several effects on grant programs. The following is a sample of the proposed changes:
- Sec. 2503 authorizes mandatory funding for the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program at $40 million for fiscal years 2013-2017.
- Sec. 2704 repeals the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program.
- Sec. 2705 repeals the Grassland Reserve Program.
- Sec. 2706 repeals the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program.
- Sec. 2707 repeals the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program.
- Sec. 2710 repeals the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative.
- Sec. 3503 reauthorizes the Delta Heath Care Services Program.
- Sec. 4013 requires funding for the Emergency Food Assistance Program to be available for two years, and increases existing funding indexed to inflation by $150 million over ten years.
- Sec. 4102 refocuses the Commodity Supplemental Food Programs to serve senior citizens, and phases out eligibility for women, infants, and children.
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