Vastly different House and Senate versions of the reauthorization of the federal farm bill. The big issue is funding for conservation programs. Senate, yes. House, no. Via Medill:
WASHINGTON – The chairmen of the Senate and the House Agriculture Committees unveiled drastically different plans for funding farm conservation programs last week, setting the stage for a debate that may last well into September with billions of subsidy dollars for farmers at stake.
A central element of the discussion is the Conservation Security Program, or CSP – a five-year-old program that Senate Agriculture Chairman Tom Harkin of Iowa wants to boost but his counterpart in the House wants to freeze. It expanded conservation by offering subsidies to working farmlands that adopted new environmentally friendly techniques rather than only providing money to farmland taken out of production. But it was undermined at its inception because of budget restraints – a problem that will play into determining its future.
As I understand this, it is not so much a debate about conservation as about how to get money to farmers and which farmers get the support. Some see shifting money to conservation as a threat to the current system of commodity price supports. Throw into the mix rulings that some of said price supports violate international trade law and ongoing negotiations — including heavy involvement by the French — and you've got a difficult-to-fathom mess. Oh, and uh, ethanol.
FYI, NC Reps. McIntyre, Etheridge and Foxx sit on the House Ag Committee.
Senate Ag's rather ineffective and hard-to-use Farm Bill Page
Environmental Defense on why it matters.