Sunday, April 20, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Farm bill could hinge on budget talks

WASHINGTON — A farm bill that stalled in Congress before the election could see quick action by the end of the year if congressional leaders decide they need its spending cuts – including a small reduction in the $80-billion-a-year food stamps program – to make a deal for averting the “fiscal cliff.”

The farm bill passed by the Senate in June would save $23 billion over 10 years, while a version passed by the House Agriculture Committee in July would save $35 billion. The savings come from cuts to farm subsidies and by tightening eligibility requirements for those who receive food stamps, now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

That pot of money could be useful to lawmakers who will be scrambling in the year’s final weeks to address the combination of tax increases and automatic spending cuts due in January – dubbed the fiscal cliff because the combination could plunge the economy into another recession.

The Senate has already passed its version of the farm bill. So any decision to make it part of a budget agreement will require the acquiescence of Republican House leaders who stopped action on the bill before the election, saying there weren’t enough votes. But they also avoided a nasty and what would have been a highly visible pre-election floor fight over food stamps.

Democrats said the program, which feeds about 1 in 7 Americans, shouldn’t be touched while conservatives complained the bill’s 2 percent cut in the program – $1.6 billion a year – was too small.

Doug Heye, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, said no decisions have been made on how to move the farm bill or whether it will be part of the fiscal negotiations. The 2008 farm bill expired Sept. 30, so Congress at a minimum will have to extend parts of it into next year.

Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., signaled her eagerness to pair the two bills with a statement Friday saying the farm bill’s passage would be “a significant first step in meeting the critical deficit reduction challenges our country must face head-on this year.”

Retiring Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said he has already started working on a compromise farm bill in an effort to move it alongside deficit reduction. Conrad, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee and sits on the Agriculture Committee, said he spent part of Congress’ election recess consulting with Senate and House aides who worked on the legislation.

The House and Senate farm bills differ in how they address subsidies for farmers. But the biggest difference between the two versions is the amount cut from food stamps: The Democratic-led Senate’s bill would cut $4 billion from the almost $800 billion program over 10 years; the GOP-led House’s version would cut $16 billion.

Conrad said he has attempted to “take some sort of reasonable difference” between the House and Senate bills but would not provide details. He argues that next year’s budget will be even worse and farm-state legislators will be forced to make even deeper cuts.

“Time is not on our side,” he said. Next year’s budget situation on farm programs will be “a big mess and it’s infinitely better for everyone to get these decisions made now.”

Farm groups are aggressively pushing a combination of the farm bill and the fiscal package, seeing the deficit reduction as the last, best vehicle to get the bill done this year.

“I think it’s going to be very hard to get a farm bill done unless a decision is made very quickly to be part of a package,” said Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Stallman said he thinks the bill can move very quickly once lawmakers find a compromise on the food stamp issue.

“When political leadership decides they want something done they will craft a path to make it happen,” he said. “But that hasn’t happened yet.”

Food stamps make up roughly 80 percent of the bill’s half-trillion dollar cost over five years. Sustained unemployment, rising food prices and expanded eligibility under President Barack Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus have doubled the program’s cost since 2008, and food stamps now help feed 47 million people.

The proposed House cuts would target practices by many states that critics claim swell the rolls of beneficiaries. They include waiving asset and income eligibility limits for people who get other welfare benefits or signing people up for minimal heating aid so that they can qualify automatically for food stamps, too. The Senate bill also tightens eligibility in some areas but doesn’t save as much money.

The House and Senate bills also differ on how subsidies are structured for various crops. Commodity groups for specific crops and lawmakers who represent their constituencies have battled over how those subsidies should work in an environment where there is less money to go around.

This year’s farm bill situation is unusual. The last four farm bills – passed in 2008, 2002, 1996 and 1990 – were all passed prior to elections with rural politics driving the equation. This year politics had the opposite effect as food stamps got in the way.

Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, said the results of the Nov. 6 election should be good news for those who want to see a farm bill passed, since the balance of power stayed the same.

“The outcome removed any sort of political rationale for a delay,” Johnson said. “The political argument I think is gone. Not to say it will be easy.”

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Supervisor candidates vary on Plan Bay Area

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 12 Comments | Gallery

 
Earth Day means cleanup Day for Suisun City

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1, 4 Comments | Gallery

Hop to it: Couple lights up home, yard for Easter

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: C1

 
Bay Area makes growth plans

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

Ranking the best Bay Area athletes

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2

 
The Edge hosts Easter egg hunt

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A3

Alooma Temple keeps children in mind

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Fairfield author to speak at women’s expo

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

The resurrection has changed the lives of Christians

By Perry W. Polk | From Page: C3

 
Piano scholarship competition set in Vallejo

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Understanding your health insurance

By Morgan Westfall | From Page: D4, 1 Comment

 
Armijo graduate completes basic training

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: C4

 
Record Store Day a commercial hit

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Easter egg hunt brings out the smiles

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Dutch Bros. joins Fairfield coffee corridor

By Barry Eberling | From Page: B7, 4 Comments | Gallery

City sets plan to dispose of property assets

By Brian Miller and Karl Dumas | From Page: B7, 1 Comment

 
Fairfield police log: April 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: April 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

Counties tell Brown they need money for his law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

 
San Francisco probe leading to entrapment claims

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Exhibit recreates Warhol’s 1964 World’s Fair mural

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
NASA’s space station Robonaut finally getting legs

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Ohio couple married 70 years die 15 hours apart

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
Documents detail another delayed GM recall

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

Official: 3 bodies retrieved from inside ferry

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13 | Gallery

 
13th body pulled from snow in Everest avalanche

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

At barricades, Ukraine insurgents await Easter

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Costa Rican a celebrity after certified miracle

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14 | Gallery

.

Opinion

Editorial Cartoons for April 20, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Question of the week: Will Flight 370 be found?

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

Neighborhood speeders don’t get it

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 4 Comments

 
Why would a person do this?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

 
Sound off for April 20, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

Government … for the government?

By Bill James | From Page: A8, 9 Comments

 
Jeb Bush, love, and today’s GOP

By Ruben Navarrette | From Page: A9, 1 Comment

 
 
.

Living

Community Calendar: April 20, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History for April 20, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Book details lives of cloistered nuns

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

 
Bill Nye says he underestimated debate’s impact

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3, 4 Comments

Horoscopes for April 20, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: D4

 
Pete spends weekends at my house but he never invites me to his

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: D4

.

Entertainment

Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers has book deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Tartt, Goodwin finalists for Carnegie medals

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

New book on fracking illuminates pros, cons

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

 
.

Sports

A’s score 3 in 9th, rally past Astros 4-3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Warriors beat Clippers 109-105 in playoff opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Kings, Sharks look to put Game 1 in past

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Stults, Padres hand Giants third straight loss

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Calathes suspension a reminder of supplement risk

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Raptors GM Ujiri uses profanity about Brooklyn

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Williams scores 24 as Nets beat Raptors 94-87

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Durant leads Thunder past Grizzlies 100-86

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Hawks take 1-0 lead by rolling past Pacers 101-93

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Federer beats injured Djokovic to reach final

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Wie shoots 67, wins LPGA LOTTE Championship

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Travis Bowl Highlights

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

 
Rapids, Earthquakes play to scoreless tie

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Stars Recreation bowling results

By Daily Republic | From Page: B4

 
Jimenez leads Langer by 1 shot in Greater Gwinnett

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Donald shoots 66, takes lead at RBC Heritage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Big names among prospective Buffalo Bills buyers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Indians set two new school records for track

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4

 
Award-winning archery champ shoots with his teeth

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

Survivors keep busy as Boston Marathon approaches

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Business

US delays review of contentious Keystone pipeline

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Why high oil prices are actually good for airlines

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Subscription sample boxes shake up beauty routines

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Girls from modest families get lift in technology

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

Haunted house part of San Antonio apartment lofts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B13

 
Recalls this week: lanterns, exercise devices

By The Associated Press | From Page: B13

Review: Siri-like Cortana fills Windows phone gap

By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

 
.

Obituaries

Lloyd G. Hoffmeister

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Ramon Isidro

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A4

Rogelio Tinoco-Zamudio

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
James Leroy Barbour

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

William Paul Wehrly

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Sealwyn Shirley Brucefield Shepherd Malkiewicz

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Anne Irene Elizabeth Fulgoni

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Margaret Elizabeth Silva

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics