Farm Bill Update
May 17, 2012
A coalition of 47 US Senators has asked for floor action on the 2012 Farm Bill. Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow is cautiously optimistic about the timeline. "I'm confident it will be on the floor soon," said Stabenow, "We will be able to announce something specific very shortly." Stabenow says there are some lawmakers that want to protect the status quo, but there is overwhelming bipartisan support for reform legislation. Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Pat Roberts says the committee has done the heavy lifting and now its time for Senate leadership to act on the farm bill. "September 30 is the date--three and a half months and Kansans will be putting seed in the ground," said Roberts, "All of their lenders want to know and they want to know what is in the farm bill; we simply cannot, as the chairwoman has said kick the can down the road; we have an obligation and responsibility to get this done." House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas is endorsing price protections not included in the Senate farm bill. Lucas said the safety net has to exist for all regions and all crops, and it has to be written with bad times in mind. At a House Ag Subcommittee hearing, Lucas said the commodity title must provide producers with options so they can choose the program that works best for them, whether it’s protecting revenue or price. Subcommittee Chairman Michael Conaway criticized the Senate farm bill, saying the Senate farm bill undermines crop insurance by setting up a revenue program that competes with and duplicates crop insurance.House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson says the Senate committee put together a decent farm bill, but offered criticism on the commodity title. The Minnesota lawmaker is worried about a price collapse. "Some people say we are in a zone where prices will never go down, we heard the same thing in '96 with Freedom to Farm," said Peterson, "I want to remind everybody we spent quite a bit more than we saved with Freedom to Farm to bail everybody out; the thing people have to understand this time, if this happens, there is no money coming from Washington; you can forget about getting bailed out." In Wednesday's hearing, Peterson said the House Agriculture Committee should be able to mark up the farm bill next month.