WASHINGTON, D.C. — A bill that reauthorizes the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) for another five years won approval last week in the House, but it faces some hurdles in a Senate that has pledged to keep tougher rules on overseas swaps in place.
Agriculture interests widely supported HR 4413 because it stripped some of the regulations against farmers and ranchers, who use the futures markets to hedge against big swings in crop prices. "This legislation … ensures that the (CFTC) is working in the most efficient and effective way," said Rep. Frank Lucas, the Oklahoma Republican who is chairman of the House’s agriculture committee.
"It also cements key protections into law for futures customers, such as our nation’s farmers and ranchers, and reduces the regulatory load on end-users who represent 94 percent of American job creators," Lucas continued. "I am hopeful that the Senate will take up this wide-ranging, bipartisan bill in a timely fashion so market participants have the certainty they deserve."
The bill passed on a 265-144 vote, with 46 Democrats joining Republicans to support the measure. But several key Democrats in the Senate, along with the White House, said the bill goes too far in loosening some rules.
On the House floor during debate over the bill, the Democrats’ top member on the ag panel, Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, said he wasn’t happy with the bill, but it "provides some much-needed clarity to end-users, agriculture and energy producers who actually use the derivatives market to hedge against risk and did not cause the financial collapse. Congress never intended for these end-users to be regulated in the same manner as financial entities and HR 4413 makes that clear."
Lifting rules on farmers and ranchers appears to be a goal the Senate hopes to reach with its version of the bill, said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the Senate’s ag committee.
"I’m pleased to see the House bill includes measures related to customer protections as well as important considerations for end-users like farmers, ranchers and small businesses who rely on the markets to hedge risk," Stabenow (D-Mich.) said. "These are areas where we can certainly work together. (But) it is disappointing that the bill provides no additional funding mechanism and adds new layers of administrative burdens, hindering the agency’s ability to do its job and effectively regulate these markets."
A total of 34 ag groups, led by the National Grain and Feed Assoc., the National Corn Growers Assoc. and the American Soybean Assoc., wrote a letter to House members urging them to support the measure.