Farm Bill Passes Despite Opposition

The legislative process for the 2012 Farm Bill, originally slated to be held earlier in the week, will continue despite ongoing resistance from some Southern politicians and commodity growers.

After months of debates and political wrangling, the farm bill appears to be one step closure to passing the Senate. Originally slated for markup on Tuesday, Senator Debbie Stabenow, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, reported resistance to several provisions of the bill, including the end of direct payment farm subsidies.

In particular, several Southern agricultural groups, largely representing peanut and rice farmers, reported that the proposed bill did not contain a significant safety net to protect their interests. These groups were particularly upset by the elimination of direct payments, which have been a major part of Southern crop production.

Stabenow and ranking committee member Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas were also scrambling on Wednesday to secure support from several other reluctant Senators, including Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, and Dick Lugar of Indiana. These Senators were brought on board when Stabenow agreed to include an amendment that would continue biofuels subsidies.

The final bill will reduce agricultural spending by $24.7 billion, lower than the $26.4 billion that was included in Stabenow’s original bill. Stabenow stated that the reduced cuts to farm subsidy programs were necessary to secure broader support for the bill, but the White House and House Republicans are unhappy at the lack of further agricultural cuts.

The House of Representatives is voting on its own version of the Farm Bill, one that may well contain significantly more subsidy cuts than the Senate bill.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer