RL33934 - The 2008 Farm Bill: A Summary of Major Provisions and Legislative Action
19-Jun-20008; Renée Johnson, Joe Richardson, Donald J. Marples and Mark Jickling; 44 p.
Update: Previous releases:
January 19, 2008
November 21, 2007
Abstract: The farm bill governs federal farm and food policy and is renewed about every five years. The 110th Congress is seeking to revise the current farm bill (P.L. 107- 171), which covers a wide range of programs including commodity price and income support, agricultural conservation, farm credit, research, rural development, and foreign and domestic food programs, among others.
The House completed floor action on its version of the farm bill (H.R. 2419) on July 27, 2007. The Senate Agriculture Committee approved its version (S. 2302) on October 25, 2007. Senate floor action began in early November with the Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman offering an amended version of the committee bill as a substitute (S.Amdt. 3500) to H.R. 2419. A cloture vote failed to pass before the November recess, delaying further Senate action until December.
Both the House and Senate farm bills seek many of the same types of changes to existing legislation and programs, but there are numerous differences. For farm commodities (Title I), both the House and Senate bills generally continue the framework of the 2002 farm bill, revise payment limitations (both by tightening and relaxing certain limits), and adjust support prices for some commodities. The House bill offers a one-time choice between a new national-based “revenue counter-cyclical payment” and the traditional counter-cyclical program. The Senate bill offers a one- time choice between a new state-level “average crop revenue” program and the traditional direct, counter-cyclical and marketing loan programs.
Both bills would add new provisions to address horticulture and livestock issues, some in new stand-alone titles. Both bills add new mandatory funding for specialty crop block grants and support organic production. New animal provisions address meat and poultry inspections, and country-of-origin labeling. The Senate bill also addresses meat packer ownership of livestock and other competition issues.
The nutrition title (Title IV) of both bills diverge substantially on both the total level of new funding provided for nutrition programs and the allocation of the new funding among programs. However, in most cases, the bills include very similar policy changes: increased food stamp benefits and loosened eligibility standards, and increased funding for fresh fruits and vegetables in most domestic food programs.
For conservation (Title II), international trade and food aid (Title III), credit
(Title V), rural development (Title VI), research (Title VII), forestry (Title VIII), and
energy (Title IX), both bills reauthorize, expand, and/or modify many of the existing
programs, create new programs and initiatives, or allow some programs to expire.
For credit, both bills expand borrowing opportunities for beginning and socially
disadvantaged farmers. For research, both bills would reorganize USDA’s research,
extension, and economic agencies. Other provisions include changes to the current
crop insurance program in both bills, and provisions in the Senate bill providing
permanent disaster assistance and addressing agricultural security. Both the House
and Senate bills also contain provisions that would make certain changes to tax laws,
which are intended to offset new spending initiatives in the respective bills. [read report]