Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) insists a long-overdue farm bill can get done this year if all parties are serious. It’s been more than three-and-a-half months since the 2018 farm bill expired and was extended by one year.
Asked outside the Senate chamber if another extension would be needed, Stabenow had this caveat. She said, “We can get this done if people are serious if people are serious about it. I’m serious about it. If people want to come together and do it in a bipartisan way, which we’ve always done, and do the doable, we can absolutely pass a farm bill.”
But disagreements over how to spread fixed funding between nutrition and crop support triggers or reference prices have stood in the way, as have broader appropriations fights and delays. Stabenow says, “So, we’ve lost revenue in that process. And then, as we move forward, all of these delays have focused CBO on appropriations, so we couldn’t get scores. And it’s just…there’ve been many delays, as it relates to the churning and the chaos.”
Stabenow says USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack’s focus on using CCC dollars as he did to boost foreign marketing programs is just one answer to funding a new farm bill. She added, “But CCC is part of that. The commitment that Senator Schumer made to me to add some additional money, unheard of, to find some money outside the farm bill to put in. We’re looking at everything we can. Frankly, I think this is very doable in reference prices.”
Stabenow says crop insurance, with its immediate payout for over 130 crops, has been highly effective, but ARC and PLC less so with payout delays of a year or more. So once a farm bill is up in her panel, Stabenow says she wants to focus on those things with the quickest payout for the most producers.