“We eliminate direct payments, which were paid to farmers regardless of market conditions and many times to farmers who were no longer farming,” said Lucas. The House bill, “reflects a belief in a true safety net -- something used when disaster hits such as aggressive weather or down markets. This safety net is in the best interest of all of us because it enables us to have a stable and affordable food supply.”

The Commodity Title, said Lucas, “is cut by nearly $23 billion, which is a reduction of more than 30 percent. This cut is made while still providing producers a new kind of safety net that allows them risk management choices. I’ve said many times that policy must work for all commodities in all regions. While I personally do not favor a revenue-style program, it is in the (House farm bill) as a choice for producers because some of them believe they can manage their risk better with it.”

Lucas allowed that “no one” on the House Agriculture Committee “is going to like everything in this bill -- that includes me. But, farmers, ranchers, and the American taxpayer are counting on us to pass a farm bill. Let’s give certainty to an industry that has been a bright spot in an otherwise dismal economy; let’s give taxpayers billions of dollars in deficit reduction.”

The lengthy debate over dairy policy was kicked off with margin insurance-related amendment offered by Virginia Rep. Bob Goodlatte – and backed by Democrat David Scott of Georgia --which would have replaced the Dairy Security Act. Goodlatte repeatedly warned that the act would increase the cost of milk to consumers.

Chiefly authored by Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, ranking member, the Dairy Security Act contains a controversial market stabilization component that would influence the size of the national dairy herd. Peterson didn’t back down and pointed to the 2009 dairy industry collapse when supplies were too high. Without the act, he warned that "a two percent oversupply” would lead to a similar situation and that “25 percent” of the country’s dairy farmers would be driven from business “because there is no margin left."

Goodlatte said smaller dairy operations, under the act, “while they might like to grow … would have to reduce the size of their herd. This is so antithetical to the future growth of the dairy industry, a very vital part of the American dairy industry. To say ‘because prices fall, we’ll have a government bureaucracy tell you to cut back the size of your herd’ (is wrong).”

Goodlatte’s amendment failed 26 to 20.

Late in the night, Missouri Rep. Viki Hartzler – just as she did during last year’s mark-up – proposed an amendment to do away with the USDA catfish inspection program mandated in the 2008 farm bill. Despite erroneously describing the program as “duplicative,” Hartzler’s amendment eventually prevailed on a 31-15 vote.

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