Senate Holds Farm Bill Hearings

Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate held its first hearing regarding the 2012 Farm Bill. The Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee met on Tuesday to begin shaping and outlining the vital legislation.

One of the primary concerns of the hearing was the role of farm protections and subsidies. The recent severe weather faced by farmers across the country, from droughts in Texas to flooding in the South, prompted many Senators to call for increased safety nets for farmers. In particular, come called for permanent disaster funding, citing some inefficiency in crop insurance programs.

In addition, Senators addressed the growing calls for slashing farm subsidies. Many acknowledged that the farming industry will have to accept some budget cuts and will need to make painful choices. However, many also advised against deep budget cuts. Senator Kent Conrad (D-North Dakota) warned members that farmers already face uneven playing fields and pointed out that the American agricultural industry is being outspent by the EU in terms of farm subsidies and farm supports.

Others, like former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, also emphasized the importance of research in the upcoming Farm Bill. Chick Grassley pointed out the importance on continued ethanol funding and Tom Vilsack pointed out the need to phase out ethanol subsidies without disrupting the industry as a whole.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer