Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Discusses Farm Bill

Ag leadership in Congress is moving forward on farm bill by working together, bridging differences.

Published on: Feb 27, 2012

The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing next month on the commodity title in the next farm bill. Regarding whether the committee will start over or start with the commodity title in the farm bill that was proposed to the super committee last fall, Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., says they will start in between.

"There was a tremendous amount of goodwill done, in particular I think there is a real consensus around our conservation reforms and we'll be doing a hearing on that and around other parts of the budget," Stabenow said. "In the area of commodities there were different views. I think when we move from direct payments to focusing on crop insurance and then we see commodities and regions of the country where that does not provide enough that means we've got a little bit more work to do. There are differences but we can bridge those and I think we are well on our way to doing that."

There was talk that the farm bill could be added to the payroll tax cut bill to provide a budget offset that did not happen. Stabenow says the committee will look for ways to move forward through its regular process, but it's always a possibility that the farm bill could be tied to something else.

Like most farm state lawmakers, Stabenow has some concerns about President Obama's fiscal 2013 budget.

"I believe the cut was first of all too high, just as I am very concerned about what the House of Representatives is going to do as well – way more than would allow us to write an effective farm bill," Stabenow said. "The President's budget I believe is too much as well, not as much as the cut in the House, but particularly the cuts across insurance go in the opposite directions of what we've heard from farmers and where the committee members are and certainly where I am."

The risk management and commodities hearing will be held Wednesday March 21.