Bipartisan Push for Senate Farm Bill

A bipartisan coalition of 42 senators recently sent an open letter to the Senate leadership urging them to bring the 2012 Farm Bill to the Senate floor.

The 2012 Farm Bill has been at the center of a political firestorm for more than a year. While renewing and replacing the omnibus legislation dealing with almost every aspect of federal farm policy is not typically controversial, this year’s legislation is up for renewal in the midst of a contentious presidential election and increasingly partisan debates in the House and Senate.

While the farm bill passed the Senate Agriculture Committee earlier this month, it has not yet been sent to the Senate floor for debate. The Senate farm bill contains about $25 billion in spending cuts over the next decade, including the elimination of direct payment farm subsidies.

While the bill passed the Ag Committee in a 16-5 vote, it faces tougher opposition on the Senate floor, with many Southern Senators expressing dissatisfaction at the elimination of direct payments, which disproportionately hurts Southern rice, cotton, and peanut farmers.

Regardless of internal support, the bipartisan Senate coalition believes that the farm bill deserves a vote. Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Tom Harkin recently joined 42 of their colleagues in sending a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urging both Senators to bring the bill to the floor for an open debate.

We believe there is strong support in the full Senate to consider the bill in a fair and open manner that allows senators the opportunity to offer amendments,” the letter states.

Senator Reid’s office has reiterated the Senator’s support for the agricultural sector. Reid hopes to bring the bill up for debate within the next few weeks.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer