It's been three weeks since the Senate Ag Committee give a thumbs up to the Senate version of the 2012 Farm Bill. In that version, cuts of $23 billion have been identified, including trims to major farm programs an end to direct payments and a tweaking of Supplemental Nutrition Assurance Program payments. Yet the bill remains locked away from full floor debate. Tuesday, 44 Senators sent a letter urging floor action on the new farm bill.
Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; Mike Johanns, R-Neb.; Max Baucus, D-Mont.; and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., sent a letter along with 40 colleagues to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.; and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., calling for timely and open debate on the bill.
In the letter the Senators wrote: "With our constant focus on job creation, we write to urge you to schedule floor consideration of the 'Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012' as soon as possible. The bill takes steps to reduce the deficit and decrease government spending by $23 billion. It passed the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry on April 26 with a bipartisan vote of 16 to 5. This sets an example of how Senators can come together in a bipartisan way to craft meaningful, yet fiscally responsible, policy. We believe there is strong support in the full Senate to consider the bill in a fair and open manner that allows Senators the opportunity to offer amendments."
The letter also notes that several parts of the 2008 Farm Bill are set to expire at the end of 2012 including risk management, conservation, research, trade promotion and nutrition programs in the legislation impact nearly every American.
The American Soybean Association responded to the letter with a statement noting the bill takes steps to reduce the deficit and decrease government spending.
Says Steve Wellman, ASA president: "We are particularly encouraged by the broad and diverse coalition of senators that have lent their support to this letter, and we echo their call to bring the legislation quickly to the floor in the interest of America's soybean farmers.
The National Milk Producers Federation also issued a statement about the letter noting that Senate leadership received a similar letter from more than 125 farm groups last week. NMPF President and CEO Jerry Kozak says that "the clock is ticking on our opportunity to get a farm bill done in 2012. We appreciate the display of bipartisan effort by senators from across the country to move this legislation forward."