Senate Sweetens Farm Bill

In farm bill action Wednesday, the sugar program is saved, a look at proposed spending of the new bill and a concern over means testing.

Published on: Jun 14, 2012

The Senate is hard at work on the new farm bill, and one key amendment has already been voted down. The amendment would have killed the sugar program which includes tariffs and other controls - not funded by tax payers - to manage supply and price. Long a target of the candy and soft drink lobby, this measure survives by a 50 to 46 vote.

In a statement after the vote, Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, issued a statement noting that the program brings in more than $1 billion in revenue to his state alone. In his floor statement, ahead of the vote, Crapo says that consumers in the rest of the world pay 14% more for sugar on average. Crapo, who is also co-chair of the Senate Sweetener Caucus, notes that claims of sugar shortages do to the program fly "in the face of reality. U.S. farmers and producers have proven themselves time and again to be the most efficient in the world.

SWEET RESULT: A move to end the sugar program in the Senate version of the 2012 Farm Bill gets the boot as Senators plow through a pile of amendments.
SWEET RESULT: A move to end the sugar program in the Senate version of the 2012 Farm Bill gets the boot as Senators plow through a pile of amendments.

While regional differences in the Senate bill need to be worked out, there's also a concern about more than 220 amendments filed with many not germane to the farm bill itself. Jeff Scates, president, Illinois Corn Growers Asociation, issued this statement regarding the Senate measure: "The Illinois Corn Growers Association has been and continues to be active in the 2012 Farm Bill debate and has led efforts to include an improved revenue-based safety net and preserve crop insurance as a farmer-favored form of risk management. As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) negotiate which amendments will be offered to the Farm Bill, S. 3240, we believe that only germane amendments should be considered on the Senate floor.  Non-germane amendments could delay or derail passage of the bill."

Scates says his organization opposes any amendments that reduce risk management opportunities through crop insurance for corn farmers. He adds that "we need the Farm Bill now."