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"While House GOP leaders work to secure the support necessary to bring the farm bill, H.R. 2, to the floor later this week, opponents of the legislation have stepped up their messaging game. On Monday, our inboxes, Twitter feeds and Google alerts were filled with criticism of the bill — from anti-hunger advocates, who think it’s bad for low-income families; from conservatives who think it doesn’t go far enough on SNAP but goes too far on farm subsidies; and from environmentalists, who are livid about provisions they see as weakening conservation programs and Endangered Species Act protections in pesticide approval. The House Agriculture Committee has been actively promoting the bill on Twitter, and so too has Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall, Farm Credit, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and Plains Cotton Growers, among others. In recent days there has been a flurry of op-eds backing the bill...The roster of critics, however, continues to make noise. Americans for Prosperity wrote to lawmakers on Monday urging them to “rein in excessive spending and corporate welfare” by supporting a list of amendments, some of which are considered poison pills. The Heritage Foundation issued a report late last week criticizing the nutrition title (again), saying it estimates that 20 percent of work-capable adults who are not working would be subjected to the stricter work requirements. The group believes that percentage should be much higher. And the Secretaries’ Innovation Group on Monday said state leaders want the bill to take a harder line on geographic exemptions and other policies...Meanwhile on Monday, National Crop Insurance Services — which represents companies like ADM and Farmers Mutual that sell crop insurance policies — promoted a pair of op-eds written by farmers in Kentucky and Ohio and published in local newspapers. They defended the controversial policy known as Harvest Price Option, which pays out indemnities based on projected crop prices or prices at harvest time, depending on which is higher. They argued that it allows farmers to forward market their crops and is the equivalent of “replacement value” coverage on a car. The effort is designed to counter an amendment offered by Republican Reps. John Duncan (Tenn.) and Ralph Norman (S.C.) that would eliminate taxpayer subsidies for HPO. Critics of the program argue it removes too much risk from farming, and therefore incentivizes consolidation in agriculture and planting on environmentally sensitive land...But trade overshadows all: There’s plenty of grumbling on Capitol Hill that producers are actually much more worried about the volatile trade landscape right now. Sure, they want to see the farm bill get done, but some have bigger fish to fry right now."

Posted May 15th, 2018
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