Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 10:16 AM
Capital Press file photo
U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., talks about the farm bill during a previous visit to his home district. On June 11 he put the odds of Congress passing a farm bill this year at better than 50-50. ÒIf you would've asked me this question two weeks ago, I would say there is about maybe a 30 percent chance we get something done,Ó he said. ÒSo I think we've moved the needle.Ó
By MITCH LIES
OREGON CITY, Ore. -- U.S. Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., gives Congress a better than 50-50 chance of passing a farm bill this year, despite disagreements in the House over the bill's size and emphasis.
Schrader said some Republican representatives oppose cutting more than $23 billion from the bill over 10 years compared to the existing bill. Others, however, support cuts above $33 billion, including extensive cuts to the bill's nutrition programs.
Democrats, conversely, oppose cutting the bill's nutrition programs, Schrader said.
"Those are the battle lines to me," he said.
Further clouding the picture, the farm bill was not on the to-do list released May 25 by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.
"But on the other hand," Schrader said, "the Senate seems to be wanting to go full bore.
"If the Senate can get their job done ... then I think there is a real strong interest in getting it done on the House side," he said.
"I think there is a better than 50-50 chance," he said.
"If you would've asked me this question two weeks ago, I would say there is about maybe a 30 percent chance we get something done," he said. "So I think we've moved the needle."
Schrader said key to whether the bill moves could rest on whether House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., can develop a compromise acceptable to both parties.
"If Frank is able to come away with a program that is less than $33 billion (in cuts), or the $33 billion is lowered at least a little bit and spread among different program areas, rather than just attacking nutrition, I think we get something out," Schrader said.
Schrader, who is a member of the House Agriculture Committee, made his comments to wheat and hay growers at a June 11 roundtable at his Oregon City field office.
Schrader said Lucas is getting pushed by leadership to cut more than the $23 billion proposed in the Senate bill.
"That is where that $33 billion figure is coming from," he said, "which makes it difficult to reinvest some of the savings from direct payments."
Direct payments are expected to be eliminated in the 2012 Farm Bill, saving taxpayers billions of dollars over the life of the bill.
Schrader said he would like to see the bill include robust research, market access and crop insurance programs.
The Senate voted June 7 to proceed to consideration of the 2012 Farm Bill. The bill previously passed out of the Senate Agriculture Committee.