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House Speaker Boehner Pledges Farm Bill in 2013

08 March 2013

US - House Speaker John Boehner spoke during a forum with members of the Ohio Farm Bureau, this week, but had little to say about the bureau’s priority legislation: a new Farm Bill.

Mr Boehner did pledge to get a new Farm Bill done and said he expected the Senate to do the same this year, reports Lima Ohio.

“We had a very tough time last year getting to a farm bill. We are going to do a farm bill this year. And I expect the Senate will do a farm bill as well,” Mr Boehner said.

At the top of the Farm Bureau’s priorities is a new Farm Bill. Farmers want a new five-year bill that addresses safety-net needs, such as crop insurance. The current bill is an extension of the old one.

While the Senate passed a version in 2012, the House did not. Instead, as part of Fiscal Cliff negotiations, Congress extended the old Farm Bill through the end of September.

It was the Republican leadership in the House, according to published reports, that refused to bring a farm bill to the floor for a vote in 2012.

Mr Boehner is known to oppose supply management programmes, especially for dairy. He said so again this week, but otherwise said he would “keep my opinions on the farm bill to myself at this point.”

Mr Boehner said the large fight will be around food stamps and other government nutrition programs that make up 80 per cent of the Farm Bill.

Eligibility for food stamps was “widened in a significant way” several years ago, he said, and now 18 million more Americans are on food stamps now than four years ago.

Mr Boehner also blamed the Senate and President Barack Obama for the current automatic budget cuts.

The House will not be offering new revenue, Mr Boehner said. He said wants to see reforms that will put programs such as Medicare and Social Security on a sustainable path as the massive Baby Boomer generation starts to retire.

“The issue of taxes is over,” Mr Boehner said.

“It’s time to deal with the real problem, which is spending. This year, the federal government will bring in more revenue than any year in our history. And we still have a trillion dollar budget deficit.”

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