WASHINGTON, June 5, 2013 – The House Judiciary Committee voted today to amend the farm bill (H.R. 1947) to place the Dairy Market Stabilization Program and new conservation programs under the purview of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and the Congressional Review Act (CRA).
The amendment, offered by Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., was approved by voice vote with little Democratic dissent.
The committee, which has jurisdiction over a few sections of the farm bill mostly dealing with rulemaking, then reported out, with no recommendation, the entire bill by voice vote.
The APA largely requires the vast majority of federal agencies to provide public notice and seek public comment before creating new regulations. The CRA requires new regulations to be submitted to Congress for review.
“Given the broad changes and impacts that these programs will bring to America’s farmers and ranchers and other affected entities, I believe that the public deserves a full and fair opportunity to comment on the regulations that will determine how these programs will be run,” Goodlatte said.
Goodlatte said his amendment would require USDA to render determinations in the rulemakings of the impacts of the stabilization program on the dairy value chain, the U.S. dairy industry’s international competitiveness, and government-funded domestic and international nutrition programs. He noted that the Senate farm bill asks USDA to study nearly identical criteria.
Committee ranking member John Conyers, D-Mich., said he supports the amendment because it asserts the jurisdiction of the committee over APA and CRA.
“It requires the agriculture secretary to study the effects of the dairy program and is not intended to be used as a legal basis to challenge the dairy program,” Conyers said.
Jerry Kozak, president and chief executive officer of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), said requiring the dairy reform program to go through regular government rulemaking was a “reasonable compromise.”
“This is the latest attempt at compromise by Congressman Goodlatte on a program that has been approved twice by the House Agriculture Committee and that dairy farmers overwhelmingly support,” Kozak said. “It’s time to end the divisiveness and approve reform of the federal dairy program. For that reason, we see today’s vote, which appears to accept that the Dairy Security Act (DSA) will become law, as a good compromise.”
Kozak said the amendment calls for interim federal rules for the market stabilization aspects of the DSA nine months after enactment and final regulations in 21 months.
“While this is not the approach we chose, we see it as acceptable,” Kozak said. “The important thing is to get dairy reform enacted for the nation’s milk producers. If it requires this amendment to do that, we can live with that.”
Chuck Conner, president and chief executive officers of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, urged passage of a farm bill which includes “important reforms of the dairy program.”
“The House Agriculture Committee provided a thorough review of all programs and produced a bill with broad bipartisan support,” Conner said. “Now is the time for all of agriculture to work together to get a bill passed on the House floor. Diversions that keep us from our end goal - to help farmers, ranchers, rural communities, and those less fortunate who need assistance - only serve to undermine the work of Chairman [Frank Lucas, R-Okla.,] and the House Agriculture Committee.”
Separately, NMPF, as well as 22 dairy organizations and more than 100 farm groups, urged the Senate today to cut off debate on its farm bill (S.954) and give final approval on June 10.
“Farmers have now been waiting two years to know the details of the federal dairy safety net,” Kozak said. “They need this information to make business decisions. Along with the rest of American agriculture, milk producers nationwide urge the Senate - in the strongest possible terms - to vote for cloture on the farm bill Thursday.”
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