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Stabenow Says Farm Bill Negotiations Holding up Draft Bill

Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow says farm bill negotiations are taking more time than expected, slowing down drafting of a Senate farm bill.

“The negotiations are going slower than I would like, but I am…we are laser-focused on getting this done by December.”

That was a comment by Senator Stabenow outside the Senate chamber, responding to concerns by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) that the talks with Republicans are way behind schedule. That prompted the question; “What is the hold-up in negotiations? Where are the friction points? Stabenow, “Well, we just, at this point, I’m not going to get into negotiating in public.”

Top Senate Ag Republican John Boozman of Arkansas and his side have complained SNAP spending is crowding out farm programs, and the Secretary’s CCC spending lacks adequate controls. Yet Stabenow says she and Boozman are leaning on Secretary Tom Vilsack to prop up the farm bill baseline with CCC dollars—up to $30 billion–allowed for commodity programs like MAP.

Stabenow, “I expect if the Secretary’s able to do it, that it will be robust funding. I mean, we hadn’t seen an increase in years in the MAP program, basically, the Market Access Program.”

Even as Stabenow says producers clamor for more trade help. But Stabenow says a more worrisome sign for the farm bill is the House GOP’s failure to move a USDA spending bill.

“I feel like there really is a parallel between the appropriations process and the farm bill.”

Both are made up of 12 titles or 12 bills. The Ag appropriations bill stalled in the House Rules Committee in July when hardline Republicans demanded more cuts.

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