The House Committee on Agriculture has begun its meeting to consider a new five-year Farm Bill, officially known as the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2013.
The meeting is being televised on C-SPAN 3, and live streaming video of today's markup meeting is available online here. The meeting is expected to last throughout the day.
As a Member of the House Committee on Agriculture, U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) is participating in today's markup meeting. At Rep. Roby's urging, two of her priorities are already included in the underlying Farm Bill:
* a provision preventing illegal aliens from fraudulently obtaining federally subsidized food stamps, which Rep. Roby originally proposed in an amendment to the bill last year, and;
* a provision reducing the amount of land allowed into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), a reform introduced as a standalone bill by Rep. Roby earlier this year that will save taxpayers millions of dollars.
In addition, Rep. Roby plans to introduce an amendment closing the "LIHEAP Loophole," which currently allows beneficiaries of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to automatically increase their food stamp payments even if they don't actually pay home energy expenses. Some states are taking advantage of this loophole by sending small LIHEAP payments to households, which automatically qualifies them for greater food stamp payments. Rep. Roby's amendment would require households that use the home energy deduction to qualify for larger food stamp benefits to simply provide proof of payment for heating or cooling costs. Closing this loophole could save the taxpayers about $12 billion annually.
Rep. Roby said she is committed to passing a Farm Bill that ensures parity for Alabama's farmers, while reining in the size of government by reforming farm and nutrition programs.
"We need a new Farm Bill, and I appreciate the Committee's efforts to begin this process," Rep. Roby said. "During this long committee markup meeting, I'll be working to ensure Alabama's farmers are treated fairly and given the certainty they need. I will also push for conservative reforms that reduce the size of government, rein in spending and remove unfair and costly loopholes."