Senate Ag Committee marks up 2012 Farm Bill today

After a slight delay, the Senate Agriculture Committee began marking up the 2012 Farm Bill in the Russell Senate Office Building this morning.

Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow of Michigan began the proceedings, noting that the Committee’s proposal will promote true reform in farm policies.

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Ranking Member Pat Roberts worked closely with Stabenow to present a unified proposal. He noted that lawmakers are trying to craft a bill during the most difficult budget climate in the nation’s history.

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In one area of reform, Stabenow says the committee’s bill will ‘tighten the belt’ when it comes to subsidy programs.

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And, Stabenow says the farm bill is actually a “jobs” bill.

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There have been some regional differences of opinion about the Commodity Title and the safety net. But, Roberts says the bill sin’t a zero-sum game.

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In a conference call with the media yesterday, Senator John Thune said that he sees the draft as a workable bill. He says the bill provides an adequate safety net and contributes substantially to reducing the budget and deficit.

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He also pointed out that although some of the amendments offered were to appease farmers of crops such as peanuts and rice, pumping up the safety net for various crops will be expensive.

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Thune said other senators representing more Northern states are also offering several proposals to reshape the shallow-loss program for commodities as well. He says they are attempting to change the protection levels at the farm level.