Farm Bill Passes Senate
June 21, 2012
During debate on the 2012 farm bill Wednesday, the Senate rejected two attempts to effectively kill the farm bill, a day before the final vote. Senators Mike Lee and Ron Johnson proposed ending debate and sending the bill back to committee. Two amendments were approved to put new restrictions on crop insurance premium subsidies. Farmers with AGI over $750,000 would see a 15 percent cut in premium subsidies. The Senate also approved an amendment tying conservation compliance to crop insurance premium subsidies. Farmers earning more than a million dollars will also not be allowed to receive conservation payments.
The Senate voted not to change the sugar program, defeating an amendment to the 2012 farm bill to reduce the scope of the program on a vote of 53 to 46. However, an amendment offered by Senator Saxby Chambliss that would make it easier for USDA to authorize more sugar imports earlier in the marketing year, was approved. Senators defeated an amendment to cut $40 million a year from the Market Access Program.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow spoke against cutting MAP.
Earlier this week, the Senate approved Sen. Maria Cantwell's (D-WA) amendment for the Pulse School Lunch pilot program on a vote of 58-41-1. This pilot program encourages the purchase of pulse crop products for school meals programs. The Senate farm bill increases funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grant program to $70 million a year, more than double the current level. It also includes the Pulse Health Initiative in the research title, budgeted at $125 million over five years.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas has announced that the committee will hold a markup on the 2012 farm bill on July 11th, following the July 4th recess.