Southern Growers Shift Focus to House

Following the passage of the 2012 Farm Bill out of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Southern growers are focusing their lobbying efforts on the House of Representatives, hoping to undo the less popular measures currently contained in the Senate bill.

The farm bill’s passage late last month came as a surprise to some pundits and analysts who had thought that dysfunction in Congress and presidential election politics would indefinitely stall the bill. Naysayers were nearly proven right when unexpected opposition to the bill in the Agriculture Committee (mainly from Southern senators concerned with subsidies for peanut, rice, and cotton farmers) threatened to stall the final version of the bill.

With the Senate version finally making it out of committee, Southern lobbyists are shifting their focus to the House of Representatives, where the farm bill has not reached the floor, and where Southern growers hope to find a more receptive audience. According to the head of the Arkansas Farm Bureau, the Senate bill disproportionately disadvantages Southern growers. “I think it’s pretty telling that four of the five ‘no’ votes on the [Senate Agriculture] Committee were from southern senators. That sends a message that this bill does not contain an adequate safety net for southern agriculture.”

Southern growers are particularly upset at the elimination of direct payment farm subsidies and counter-cyclical payments. In addition, they are complaining that the bulk of the new farm bill’s reformed subsidies programs (like crop insurance proposals) are geared towards corn and wheat farmers, leaving peanut and rice farmers few safety nets.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer