Gearing up for a Farm Bill Debate
Senate appears ready to start finalizing its version of the 2012 Farm Bill, but there will be floor debate time ahead. House closer to markup.
Published: Jun 5, 2012
It looks like the Senate will start debating its version of the 2012 Farm Bill - and folks from all sides of the debate are gearing up. This week the American Farm Bureau Federation sent a letter to the Senate outlining that organization's priorities, while at least one Senator from the Ag Committee wants to roll back some cuts. Yet Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., is optimistic not only about debate starting this week, but passage of the measure within two to three weeks.
That timing is important because, frankly, the Senate and the House are running out of time. The calendars for Congress will wind down as election time nears and to avoid a lame-duck farm bill lawmakers need to make progress.
SENATE DEBATE NEARS: The Senate could start debating its version of the 2012 Farm Bill as early as this week. Expect plenty of amendments.Stabenow optimistic
As for Sen. Stabenow, a Feedstuffs report on her conference call Monday, shows her to be optimistic about getting the bill to the floor for debate, and passed soon. The bill - which ends direct payments and scores $23 billion in savings over the next 10 years, was adopted in one of the fastest farm bill markup sessions in history back in April.
Stabenow says she expects to easily get the 60 votes needed to avoid cloture, if needed. In the Senate many amendments can be proposed, and she recognized that many will be introduced. Some regions of the country are against the end of direct payments that are part of the Senate version.
Rice and peanut growers had been lukewarm to the proposed Agriculture Risk Coverage program. A new analysis shows that had ARC been in place in the past, the program would be effective in protecting farmers from losses, and that the program is fair for all commodities, Stabenow says.
Association weighs in
In its letter to the Senate, AFBF President Bob Stallman says that while he believes the Senate version of the farm bill - S. 3240 - moves toward the organization's core principles for rational, acceptable farm policy and his organization supports the bill, there may be some tweaks needed. "While the legislation addresses many Farm Bureau policy priorities, it is our sincere hope there will be additional opportunities to make adjustments and refinements to improve this legislation," Stallman says.
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Tagged: farm bill, Farm Bureau, crop insurance, Senate Ag Committee, 2012 Farm Bill