WASHINGTON, Oct. 12, 2013 - The House today rejected two non-binding motions to instruct conferees on the farm bill dealing with sugar policy as well as permanent law and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The House turned away, on a 192-212 vote, a resolution (H. Res. 378), offered by Rep. Joseph Pitts, R-Pa., to instruct conferees to give the agriculture secretary authority to increase sugar imports year-round, rather than just during the current six-month window.  On sugar, click here to see the roll call vote.

In opposition, 127 Democrats were joined by 85 Republicans. In support of the resolution, 130 Republicans were joined by 62 Democrats.

Pitts had argued his resolution would return authority the secretary had before the 2008 farm bill, and protect manufacturing jobs. Peterson called the resolution unnecessary because “it’s not going to be considered by the conference.”

The American Sugar Alliance (ASA) said the vote shows that lawmakers support current sugar policy.

“It is hard to imagine any issue that has been voted on as many times as sugar policy since congressional action on this Farm Bill began,” ASA said. “The Senate has rejected three amendments designed to gut U.S. sugar policy, and now the House has voted down two anti-sugar proposals.”

Then, the House rejected, on a 195-204 vote, a motion to instruct conferees to support permanent law provisions in the Senate bill and a five-year reauthorization of SNAP benefits. The current House proposal includes a three-year reauthorization of SNAP with a $40 billion cut.

The motion, offered by House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., received the support of 186 Democrats and nine Republicans. It was opposed by 204 Republicans and no Democrats. For the roll call vote, click here

Earlier, the House also approved a resolution instructing House conferees to support a Senate farm bill provision that would reduce crop insurance premium subsidies for farmers who have an adjusted gross income (AGI) of more than $750,000 by a voice vote.

The resolution on crop insurance (H. Res. 379) was offered by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who called it reasonable to reduce premium subsidies by about 15 percent for farmers and earning more than $750,000 in AGI. It mirrors a successful Senate farm bill amendment sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.

Lucas opposed the resolution, saying, “We need to encourage participation in crop insurance and increase premiums into the insurance pool.”

More than 20 groups, including the National Farmers Union, wrote a letter Friday, urging lawmakers to oppose Ryan's resolution.

“In the spirit of compromise and in the interest of completing a 2013 farm bill this year, each of the groups has committed to not support amendments that might weaken the crop insurance program or conservation compliance,” the letter said. “A meaningful farm and natural resource safety net as provided by crop insurance and conservation compliance must be available to all producers across the nation.



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