Congress Takes August Break Without Passing Farm Bill

August 2012

By Gina Luke, assistant director, Governmental Relations Division

The GOP leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives refused to schedule a vote on comprehensive legislation (H.R. 6083, Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act) that would reauthorize agriculture and nutrition policy for the next five years.  The legislation was passed with bipartisan support on July 11 by the House Agriculture Committee by a vote of 35-11. It would extend authority to appropriate funds for many USDA discretionary programs through FY2017.

With time running short before the August recess, House leaders tried unsuccessfully to move a one-year extension of existing farm law (H.R. 6228). The effort failed because there was not enough support in either party to advance it.

In the end, House leaders settled for passing a smaller package (H.R. 6233) that would reauthorize several expired disaster programs that provide assistance to agricultural and livestock producers affected by the drought but not covered by crop insurance, namely the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), the Livestock Forage Program (LFP), the Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP) and the Tree Assistance Program (TAP). The cost of the drought package totaled about $383 million over ten years with offsets coming from two conservation programs, namely the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Senate Democratic leaders opted not to consider the bill because they said it was too narrow.

The full Senate passed its comprehensive version of the 2012 farm bill (S. 3240, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act) on June 21 by a vote of 64-35. It, too, would extend authority to appropriate funds for many USDA discretionary programs through FY2017.

The AVMA continues to urge Congress to pass a five-year reauthorization bill, as so many of the Association’s priorities were included in S. 3240 and H.R. 6083. Neither bill made changes to the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program.

When lawmakers return to Washington, DC after a five-week recess they will have just three weeks to complete their work before the existing farm law (P.L. 110-246) expires on September 30.

AVMA Priority Program S. 3240 HR 6083
Reauthorize the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank at $2.5 million annually Yes Yes
Reauthorize the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative at $700 million annually Yes Yes
Reauthorize the Animal Health and Disease Research/1433 Formula Funds Yes Yes
Authorize the Veterinary Services Investment Act at $10 million annually to complement the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Yes Yes
Establish the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research Yes No
Formally authorize the National Animal Health Laboratory Network No No
NAHLN would continue under the auspices of the Food and Agricultural Defense Initiative within the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Address issue surrounding the Minor Use Animal Drug Program No


Sec. 7405. Competitive, Special, and Facilities Research Grant Act i. identifies priority areas for research including the research and development of surveillance methods, vaccines, vaccination delivery systems, or diagnostic tests for zoonotic diseases in wildlife reservoirs presenting a potential concern to public health or domestic livestock; and the identification of animal drug needs and the generation and dissemination of data for safe and effective therapeutic applications of animal drugs for minor species and minor uses of such drugs in major species.

For more information please contact glukeatavma [dot] org (Gina Luke), assistant director, AVMA Governmental Relations Division.

 The AVMA Advocate - News Bites - August 2012