THE House Judiciary Committee approved, by a voice vote, an amendment to the House farm bill that would ensure that regulations imposed under the Federal Agriculture Reform & Risk Management (FARRM) Act are subject to promulgation under the Administrative Procedure Act and the Congressional Review Act, which falls under the jurisdiction of the House Judiciary Committee.
The version of the bill reported by the House Agriculture Committee last month waived this requirement. The amendment officially becomes part of the farm bill that will be considered by the full House, possibly as soon as the week of June 17.
The Administrative Procedure Act has, for decades, been considered the constitution of agency rule-making, House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.) said.
"The Congressional Review Act, meanwhile, stands as an additional means to check and balance agency rule-making that may be inconsistent with congressional intent, excessively costly or unsound for other reasons," Goodlatte said during the markup June 5.
Goodlatte explained that the House farm bill exempts from the Administrative Procedure Act and the Congressional Review Act its "highly controversial" Dairy Supply Stabilization Program, its related Dairy Margin Protection Program, its conservations programs and authorization of the use of Commodity Credit Corp. funds, facilities and authorities to implement the bill's commodity provisions.
Goodlatte said the clarification is a matter of transparency and accountability within the federal rule-making process.
"Given the broad changes and economic impacts that programs in the FARRM Act will bring to America's farmers and ranchers, I believe that the public deserves a full and fair opportunity to comment on the regulations that will determine how these programs will be run," he said in a statement.
Goodlatte, who has been opposed to the dairy supply management program proposed in the farm bill, said his amendment doesn't solve what he sees as fundamental problems with the Dairy Market Stabilization Program but instead requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture to study the impacts of the rule, including the dairy value supply chain and the U.S. dairy industry's international competitiveness and government-funded domestic and international nutrition programs.
Goodlatte said the amendment would not slow USDA's implementation of farm bill programs because it sets a deadline of nine months after enactment for interim rules on stabilization to be put into place, allowing interim rules for the other affected programs and requiring final rules with full notice and comment no more than one year later.
Goodlatte noted that the American Farm Bureau Federation supports the amendment.
The International Dairy Foods Assn. welcomed Goodlatte's amendment and has supported his counterproposal to offer an expanded safety net for dairy farmers in the form of revenue insurance but without the stabilization mechanism the organization said will "manipulate milk prices."