Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow fired the opening round in what could become a lengthy debate on the Committee’s farm bill proposal.
On the top line, Stabenow says the committee’s proposal represents the most significant reform in agriculture policy in decades.
It’s not certain when the bill will come up for a vote, but Stabenow warns that debate could drag on for weeks if many different amendments and outliers come forward on the floor.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York announced Monday that she will introduce an amendment to the Farm Bill to restore proposed Nutrition Title cuts by reducing federal subsidies for crop insurance companies. The Farm Bill includes more than $4 billion spending reductions to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over the next decade. Gillibrand, the only Democrat to vote against the bill in Committee last month, will offer her amendment on the Senate floor to restore the reductions in SNAP funding while reducing payments to crop insurance companies.
A majority of the Senate Farm Bill spending is on SNAP, at an annual cost of approximately $75 billion.
House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas has indicated he wants to write a farm bill before the 4th of July recess, and Ranking Member Collin Peterson would like to see a bill passed by the August recess.
While the Senate version of the bill differs in many respects to the legislation being considered in the House, Stabenow says they’ll work that out.
Last fall, the principal leaders of the Ag Committees prepped a farm bill for the failed congressional Super Committee. House leaders have indicated that proposal could serve as a blueprint for their approach.