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White House opposes farm bill

DANIEL LOOKER 06/17/2013 @ 11:00pm Business Editor

The White House has announced that it opposes the House version of a farm bill, known as Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2013.

"The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013." The bill would reduce access to food assistance for struggling families and their children, does not contain sufficient commodity and crop insurance reforms, and does not provide funding for renewable energy, which is an important source of jobs and economic growth in rural communities across the country," the White House Office of Management and Budget said in a statement released late Monday.

When asked about how White House opposition will affect the process of writing a farm bill, Senator Chuck Grassley, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said he believes the Obama Administration may accept the final bill, put together by a conference committee from both the House and Senate.

"It's not helpful but I don't think it's going to make much difference until we finally know where we are," Grassley told Agriculture.com.

"It will get through the House," Grassley said of FARRM. "You aren't going to know where this bill ends up until you get to conference."

"You've got to advance a bill or you or you don't have anything," Grassley said.

The White House statement said the Obama Administration "opposes the harmful cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a cornerstone of our Nation's food assistance safety net." The bill makes unacceptable deep cuts in SNAP, which could increase hunger among millions of Americans who are struggling to make ends meet, including families with children and senior citizens.  The Administration believes that Congress should achieve significant budgetary savings to help reduce the deficit without creating hardship for vulnerable families - for example, by reducing crop insurance subsidies.  Rather than reducing crop insurance subsidies by $11.7 billion over 10 years, as proposed in the President's Budget, H.R. 1947 would increase reference prices for farmers by roughly 45 percent and increase already generous crop insurance subsidies at a cost of nearly $9 billion over 10 years to the Nation's taxpayers."

"Clearly, for some of my conservative friends who don't think there are enough reforms in the nutrition title, here's the White House saying there are too many, in their opinion. I'd say I've been vindicated by my reforms," House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas told CQ Roll Call. "We're really doing something."

Debate on the House farm bill could start later today and votes on amendments are expected to start on Wednesday.

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