As the ayes and nays were counted up Thursday, it was apparent early that Sen. Debbie Stabenow's prediction of having 60 votes for cloture was an easy call. In fact, the Senate voted 90 to 8 for cloture, which means members of the chamber can move ahead.
The Michigan Democrat says the Senate bill represents "the greatest reform in agriculture in decades. The bill ends unnecessary direct payment subsidies, consolidates programs and cracks down on fraud and abuse." The Congressional Budget Office scores the bill with $23.6 billion in savings over 10 years and a total estimated cost of $969 billion for the same period.
Shortly after the vote was taken, farm groups weighed in with their take on the measure. Garry Niemeyer, president, National Corn Growers Association, says the "overwhelmingly positive vote on the floor reaffirms that Senators understand the importance of passing the 2012 Farm Bill this year. [NCGA] cheers the strong bipartisan vote and appreciates the work of Senators Stabenow and Roberts on this legislation."
Niemeyer adds that the measure creates reforms needed to reduce the budget deficit and provisions that "ensure a positive beginning for the next generation" of farmers.
Jerry Kozak, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, says Thursday's action "greatly increases the chances that we can get our dairy reform proposal through the Senate, as well as the House, and passed into law this year." The legislation incudes a new, voluntary margin protection program, endorsed by NMPF, to help safeguard farmers against what the group calls "disastrously low" margins.