Talks continue between principle leaders in the Senate on the new farm bill. There were a couple of meetings for Ag Committee members last week. And perhaps we could see a full farm bill presented this week. But the process is still being described as incredibly difficult.
Senator Tom Harkin, the former chairman of the Senate Ag Committee during the past two farm bills, says the current talks are being held up on concerns about the details of the revenue and income protection programs. Some lawmakers feel that the major commodities grown in their states will lose by giving up the current commodity programs.
Harkin says some of the wheat-state people think they are not getting a fair exchange, and that too much is going to corn, and perhaps oilseeds.
We talked with North Dakota Grain Growers President Terry Weckerly in Fargo last week. He says all commodity groups agree that we need to maintain a solid crop insurance program.
When asked by reporters if wheat is being treated fairly in the new bill, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana said, “We’re working on it. We’re not there yet.”
Ahead of the Veteran’s Day Weekend, Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow talked at length with Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad of N.D., and was also seen talking with Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, and Sen. Tim Johnson of S.D.
Stabenow later told a reporter, “We’re tweaking the bill” and that there might be a final product this week.
Agricultural leaders had set a Nov. 1 deadline to send a bill to the super committee, but will miss that deadline by at least two weeks.