Soy Growers Oppose ‘Poison Pill’ Amendments to House Farm Bill

With the House of Representatives expected to consider the farm bill reported by the House Agriculture Committee as soon as next week, the American Soybean Association (ASA) joined over 300 ag-related organizations on a letter to all House Members asking them to oppose all amendments that would jeopardize passage of the bill on the House floor.

There have been rumors that right-wing conservatives who always vote against farm bills will offer amendments that would reduce the government’s share of the crop insurance premium, tighten Title 1 program payment limitations, and eliminate the sugar program.

Whether these or other amendments are offered depends on how the rule for considering the bill on the floor is written by the Rules Committee. A structured rule could specify the amendments that would be considered in order, while a closed rule, which is unlikely, would prohibit amendments entirely.

Ag Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) has stated that anyone wanting to offer an amendment should be required to commit in advance to support passage of the final bill, regardless of whether it passes or not.

With all Democrats prepared to vote against the Committee-passed bill due to its tightening of SNAP (food stamp) eligibility requirements, the bill will require 215 Republicans, representing a majority of current House Members, to vote in favor.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) is supporting the Committee bill as a step forward in his agenda for welfare reform, but 16 right-wing groups including Heritage Action are actively lobbying members of the conservative Freedom Caucus to vote against it.

ASA strongly supports House passage of the legislation, which would clear the way for the Senate Agriculture Committee and the full Senate to act on their version in June and for Conference in July.

The window for enacting the 2018 Farm Bill before the current Agricultural Act of 2014 expires at the end of September is narrowing, and will become even more difficult as the November mid-term elections approach.

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