In June, Michael Best & Friedrich expanded from its Midwest base and opened a Washington D.C. office. Food and agriculture will be among the key areas of regulatory and legislative focus for the firm’s new office. Michael Best & Friedrich LLP attorneys Anna Wildeman, based in the D.C. office, and Madison-based David Crass have been working closely with firm clients on the landmark five-year Farm Bill which will include major revisions in agriculture policy.
On June 10th, the Senate approved their bi-partisan comprehensive version of the Farm Bill (S 954) which included a nutrition title that authorized funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly referred to as SNAP or food stamps. In addition, the Senate version included a Market Stablization Program (supply management), which gives the government the control of the nation’s milk supply.
On July 11th, the House approved their own version of the Farm Bill (HR 2642) with no Democrats in support that did not include a nutrition title, but did include a measure that would repeal the 1938 and 1949 farm laws and make the commodity title of the 2013 bill the new permanent law. The House version did not include the Market Stablization Program. Instead, the House bill included the Goodlatte/Scott Amendment which contains a safety net called margin protection insurance that is similar to other government commodity insurance programs but does not include any form of supply management that would control output from our dairy industry. The House passage of the Goodlatte/Scott Amendment was seen as a significant win for our client, the Dairy Business Association.
The House passed Farm Bill is now expected to move on to a conference with the Senate passed Farm Bill. As of this writing it appears unlikely that a formal conference will begin before the August recess.