Ag Policy Blog
Chris Clayton DTN Ag Policy Editor

Tuesday 12/18/12

Senate Goes to Its Own Plan B for Ag Disaster Aid

With House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, going to "Plan B" for the fiscal talks, some Democratic senators are apparently moving to plan B for agricultural disaster aid.

Appearing unable to convince other House leaders to keep negotiating with the president, Boehner is moving the House toward a possible vote on a package Thursday that could raise taxes for people making more than $1 million. Boehner's proposal, however, would keep the current budget cuts involved in the sequestration plan approved last year.

Over in the Senate on Tuesday, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., filed an amendment to the Sandy disaster legislation that would extend for one year the livestock disaster assistance, as well as the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, known as NAP. That program is typically used for fruit and orchard growers. The disaster programs expired last September, but it has been understood that the programs would be reauthorized in a new farm bill. While Merkley introduced the amendment, it was co-sponsored by fellow Democratic Sens. Max Baucus of Montana, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Claire McCaskill of Missouri, as well as Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.

Stabenow spoke on the floor Tuesday, "We are still working very hard to complete a farm bill, to have the House take action, but in the meantime we have disasters that have occurred, and this -- these provisions are lifted directly from what we already passed in the farm bill that address what has happened in terms of livestock drought and fires assistance for fruit tree growers, and we will be speaking at a later time about it. But these are essential to be included for thousands and thousands of farmers and ranchers across the country."

Yet Merkley's amendment was then laid aside, which means it's unlikely to be considered in the final passage of the disaster bill.

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Posted at 8:18PM CST 12/18/12 by Chris Clayton
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