Stofferahn says political and budget environment provide “thorny situation” for secret discussion of farm bill policy


There are many farm bill details that have been negotiated behind the scenes as many lawmakers try to meet under the Super Committee process. Because of the situation, there are farm spending critics who are using this as an opportunity to argue that billions of dollars in taxpayer spending is not being debated or scrutinized in the usual process for writing a farm bill.

Scott Stofferahn, State Director for Senator Kent Conrad on agricultural policy, says the current conditions on Capitol Hill are a very “thorny situation” for farm bill negotiators.

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Much of the discussion for the next farm bill has centered on revenue protection for shallow losses when the crop insurance program falls short, such as the Crop Revenue Guarantee Program proposed by Senator Kent Conrad. Supporters say some traditional progrmas like direct payments are out of date, and revenue protection would help growers cope with a new environment of high demand, high input costs and higly volatile markets.

Stofferahn says that to make the farm bill equitable for all commodities and regions in such a tight time frame, discussions will need to be very blunt.

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The conference continues today and Tuesday. Some conversations that will be taking place this evening and tomorrow include designing an appropriate policy framework for production agriculture, where the U.S. fits into trade and globalization, the USDA’s role and priorities in the new farm bill, crop insurance discussion and formulating the 2012 farm bill overview.