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House Ag: Farm bill reauthorization 'main focus'

In a move that indicates the House Agriculture Committee is planning to stick to a cut of $23 billion over 10 years in the next farm bill, the committee today approved a letter to House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on fiscal year 2013 budget priorities that says its “main focus” will be reauthorization of the farm bill that expires Sept. 30.

The letter notes that the House and Senate agriculture committees sent the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction a farm bill proposal that would have cut $23 billion over 10 years from programs under its jurisdiction.

The vote on the letter was by voice. The committee is required by the 1974 Congressional Budget Act to share its “views and estimates” with the House Budget Committee each year.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., both signed the letter.
Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn.

Rep. Collin Peterson
Peterson noted in an opening statement, however, that “A $23 billion cut is more than we would be required to do under sequestration. Personally, I’d much rather pass a baseline bill and take our chances under sequestration.”

The letter notes that if sequestration goes into effect, the impact on the mandatory programs under the committee’s jurisdiction would be between $10 billion and $15 billion. The letter also notes that sequestration would exempt the food stamp program, but that the proposal the agriculture committees sent to the supercommittee on deficit reduction would cut $4 billion from nutrition programs.

The committee also expects the Budget Committee to put limits on discretionary agriculture programs and that appropriators are likely to cut mandatory programs to offset those limits, the letter said.

The letter also notes that the committee has scheduled field hearings and that it intends to hold another series of hearings in Washington this spring before holding a markup.

It also said that the committee will continue its oversight of regulations that affect agriculture and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in light of both the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and the MF Global bankruptcy.
Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla.

Rep. Frank Lucas
“We will also continue our work to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens on job-creators,” Lucas said in an opening statement.

“That includes environmental, agricultural, and labor regulations that hinder production, as well as financial regulations that impose undue requirements on Main Street businesses,” Lucas said. “Our businesses can’t create jobs when their hands are tied by red tape.”

March 7, 2012 – 2013 Budget Views Estimates Letter