In an announcement that will likely be music to American farmers’ ears, Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow recently hinted that a farm bill draft will be presented to the Senate this Friday and that voting could begin by next Wednesday, reviving hopes that new farm legislation can go into effect before the current farm bill expires at the end of September.
While senators and representatives from both parties have debated and discussed various elements of the farm bill, actual work on the omnibus legislation has been stuck in a political gridlock for the past several months. With Republicans controlling the House of Representatives and Democrats controlling the Senate (and with both parties locked in a bitter and increasingly heated rivalry), many farmers were beginning to wonder if a farm bill draft would even be attempted this year, let alone passed. The 2012 presidential election has only ratcheted up the political rhetoric and tamped down farmers’ hopes.
Stabenow’s announcement, therefore, comes as a welcome surprise to many jaded voters. In a press conference held earlier this week, Stabenow announced that, “We have a tremendous amount of consensus on the majority of the bill. In this case we really are doing what the public wants us to do.”
Although she declined to give specific details, she told reporters that the conservation title in the bill would be simplified and streamlined, and that the commodities title still needed fine tuning, but enjoyed broad support across party lines.
While Stabenow and ranking Senate Agriculture Committee member Pat Roberts appeared to agree on the specifics of the Senate bill, time will tell how their legislation will be received in the House, which recently voted on a budget that would significantly increase agricultural spending cuts.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer