Ag Policy Blog
Chris Clayton DTN Ag Policy Editor

Wednesday 12/19/12

Stabenow Appalled by House Inaction on Farm Bill

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow took to the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon lamenting the failure to get the farm bill done despite the jobs at stake and the agricultural disasters affecting the country.

"I am appalled," said Stabenow. The Democrat from Michigan said Republican leaders in the House are not placing much value of rural America by abdicating an opportunity to pass the legislation.

Politico reported Tuesday night that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, fears losing Republican votes on a final fiscal package if leaders throw a full-fledged farm bill into the mix as well.

Politico quotes a Boehner aide saying, “We can’t drop a farm bill in the middle of whatever is negotiated. A 1,000-page bill on top of whatever is negotiated will just make our vote situation harder. If we can agree on a top-line number, we suspect the committees will have a much easier time getting to a bill next year under regular order.”

Still, Stabenow declared Wednesday she had not given up. She and the other ag leaders in both the House and Senate could still get a deal if they got the greenlight from House Republican leaders. "There is no doubt in my mind we can do that," Stabenow said.

Moreover, sticking points between the two sides are in the commodity title can be resolved, Stabenow added.

Stabenow noted the farm bill cuts the projected growth of spending, reforms subsidies in agricultural programs, achieves efficiencies, and expands controls of waste fraud and abuse in nutrition programs.

"We're not giving up. We're coming back next week and we're going to be here and we are ready to work at a moment to be able to do what we need to do," she said.

Still, Stabenow said she was supporting the inclusion of a provision to extend agricultural disaster aid as part of a larger disaster package on the Senate floor dealing mainly with Hurricane Sandy. The amendment 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.

Stabenow highlighted the agricultural disasters across the country, including the worst drought since 1956. She also pointed to the repercussions of the drought, including the low waters down the Mississippi River that have affected agricultural shipments.

"We're hearing reports that grain is piling up at elevators while farmers look for different routes for shipping their grain to market," she said.

Nonetheless, Stabenow said besides funding disaster aid, the five-year farm bill eliminates direct payments and provide $23 billion in offsets for deficit reduction. On the surface, GOP leaders should champion such reforms, she said. Yet, many want the commodity programs status-quo to continue.

"I know there are those in the House who want to keep that going as long as possible but it's not right in an era where we have to make tough choices for families and the budget.

Follow me on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

Posted at 12:41PM CST 12/19/12 by Chris Clayton
Comments (1)
The potential doubling of milk prices is viewed as a total disaster by many. RFS is a major factor in the doubling or tripling of corn and soybean prices. Where is the outrage over the government mandated use of ethanol?
Posted by Lon Truly at 8:22AM CST 12/21/12
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