Press Releases

Simpson: Farm Bill Critical to Idaho

Washington, January 29, 2014
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today supported passage of the conference report for H.R. 2642, the Agricultural Act of 2014, known as the Farm Bill.  The conference report, which authorizes agriculture programs for five years, passed the House by a vote of 251-166.  The Agricultural Act of 2014 significantly reduces and reforms farm policy spending and food stamp expenditures, resulting in $23 billion dollars in taxpayer savings over 10 years. 

“The impact of the Farm Bill on Idaho’s farming and ranching families cannot be overestimated,” said Simpson. “Farming and ranching are the economic backbone of Idaho and the Farm Bill is critical to keeping that backbone strong. I can’t imagine where we’d be without a Farm Bill or what the failure to pass one would do to our agricultural, economic, and national security.”

Simpson said that like any compromise bill, the 2014 Farm Bill isn’t the bill he would have written, but stressed the alternative is far worse for American agriculture and Idaho communities. “Allowing the current Farm Bill to expire and certain agriculture programs, like the dairy program, to revert back to early 20th century laws is simply not a viable option,” said Simpson. “Our ability to maintain a safe and domestic supply of food in the United States is tied directly to the policies put forth in the Farm Bill. People in our nation appreciate the complexities of maintaining a domestic supply of food, and we have to do everything we can to keep our food grown right here in the United States.”

Here are a few highlights of the Agricultural Act of 2014: 

    • Permanently authorizes vital tools to manage livestock production risk including the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Livestock Forage Disaster Program and Emergency Assistance for Livestock producers
    • Repeals direct payments and strengthens risk management tools
    • Strengthens the crop insurance program 
    • Funds specialty crop industry priorities
    • Reauthorizes the U.S. sugar policy at zero cost to the taxpayer
    • Replaces outdated dairy programs with a new, voluntary, margin protection program
    • Makes significant reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program to address fraud and misuse while maintaining food assistance to families in need while reducing spending on food stamps by $8 billion over 10 years  
    • Strengthens and consolidates conservation programs to save $6 billion over the next decade

“I am also pleased that the Farm Bill contains significant reforms of the food stamp program and reduces its costs over the next five years,” said Simpson. “The Farm Bill prohibits federal food stamp recruitment programs, closes the “heat-and-eat” loophole, establishes state-based pilot programs with a work requirement, and ensures illegal immigrants and lottery winners are ineligible for food stamps.”

The bill also includes a number of provisions regarding management of public lands and natural resources.  These include a one-year extension of full mandatory funding for Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), which reimburses counties for the income lost because of the presence of federal land, and language preventing EPA from regulating forest roads under the Clean Water Act. 

“I am particularly grateful that the Farm Bill includes two provisions I have been seeking for quite some time – extension of PILT payments and limits on the EPA’s regulation of forest roads,” said Simpson. “The Farm Bill provides Congress with additional time to find a permanent funding source for PILT and ensures that the EPA’s regulatory appetite is curbed when it comes to forest roads.”