Last week, House leaders decided not to bring a one-year extension of the Farm Bill to the House floor and to continue with the passage of a comprehensive Farm Bill when Congress reconvenes in September. The sportsmen’s community sent a letter on July 31 to Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor and Minority Leader Pelosi urging them to pass a full reauthorization with the inclusion of a strong conservation title. The House must now work to pass the reauthorization so that it can go to conference before the current Farm Bill expires on September 30.
In the absence of a Farm Bill reauthorization, House leaders brought up and passed legislation on August 2 which temporarily reauthorizes emergency assistance programs that expired last September, in order to help farmers and ranchers cope with the drought. In order to fund these programs, this legislation proposes to take $639 million from two of the largest conservation programs for the farming community; $350 million in mandatory funding would come from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, a cost-share program that provides help to farmers for making environmental improvements, and $289 million would come from the Conservation Stewardship Program, which awards farmers on a tiered basis for stewardship activities. The Senate included drought assistance funding in its passed version of the 2012 Farm Bill and is not expected to take up the House legislation.