The Senate voted 90 to 8 today to begin debate of a five-year farm bill that would overhaul agricultural subsidies and policy. The approval vote does not necessarily mean there will be enough support to approve the legislation in a separate floor vote later.
Some opponents of the bill, including Southern lawmakers who believe the bill doesn’t provide enough support for rice and peanut farmers, could complicate passage. But Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow has said she will have the votes necessary to get final approval.
The cloture motion approved today allows Senate leadership to place a time limit on floor consideration and prevent a filibuster, a procedure used to delay votes.
In response to the passing vote to debate the bill, several groups have weighed in with their thoughts.
National Corn Association President Garry Niemeyer released a statement saying, “The overwhelmingly positive vote on the floor reaffirms that Senators understand the importance of passing the 2012 Farm Bill this year. The National Corn Growers Association cheers the strong bipartisan vote and appreciates the work of Senators Stabenow and Roberts on this legislation.
National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jerry Kozak said, “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. We commend Senators Stabenow and Roberts, the leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee, for their dogged determination to get this bill to the Senate floor.
The Senate legislation includes a new, voluntary margin protection program, endorsed by NMPF, to better safeguard farmers against disastrously low margins, such as those generated by the low milk prices and high feed costs that cost dairy farmers $20 billion in net worth between 2007 and 2009.
Kozak said the dairy title contains a better safety net for farmers in the form of the Dairy Production Margin Protection Program, which offers them a basic level of coverage against low margins, as well as a supplemental insurance plan offering higher levels of protection jointly funded by government and farmers. Those who opt to enroll in the margin program will also be subject to the Market Stabilization program that asks them to reduce milk output when margins are poor.Share