Senate Farm Bill Has Momentum

Nothing like focus to get a measure moving and that's what's happening with the Senate version of the 2012 Farm Bill.

Published on: Jun 21, 2012

Once the consensus vote to move ahead with just 73 of 300-plus amendments to the Senate version of the 2012 Farm Bill occurred, lawmakers get to work. And they've been moving forward since Tuesday. Votes on a range of amendments from conservation to the Sugar Program have been taken.

Crop insurance, a key safety net provision of the Senate farm bill, is getting tweaked by some amendments passed as lawmakers move forward. The Senate agreed that crop insurance subsidies would be limited for farmers with adjusted gross incomes above $750,000, and amendment from Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. In addition, an amendment by Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., would require conservation compliance on acres covered.

MOVING AHEAD: This weeks trimming of amendments, then a full slate of debate, has the Senate finishing its version of the 2012 Farm Bill ahead of the July 4 recess. Vote could come as early as Thursday, 6/21.
MOVING AHEAD: This weeks trimming of amendments, then a full slate of debate, has the Senate finishing its version of the 2012 Farm Bill ahead of the July 4 recess. Vote could come as early as Thursday, 6/21.

However, a move by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to limit all farm subsidies for individuals earning more than $250,000 was defeated.

In response to the Chambliss amendment, National Corn Growers Association President Garry Niemeyer issued a statement saying NCGA disappointed to see passage of Chambliss' conservation compliance for crop insurance. "Our members have spent a significant amount of time discussing this issue and feel this addition to the farm bill would have a negative impact toward America's farmers. NCGA's official policy states we oppose the coupling of conservation compliance to eligibility for federal crop insurance."

However, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, is in favor of the Chambliss amendment and also issued a statement commending a series of amendments including the Coburn-Durbin amendment on the AGI limit. A measure proposed by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Sen. Olympia Snow, R-Maine, makes it easier for organic farmers to get crop insurance and to set "appropriate payment levels" for this safety net.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has long been in favor of payment limits and his amendment on the issue will cap marketing loan gains at $75,000, which the Senator says "will help bring about more defensibility for the farm program."