Senate Ag Chairwoman Cancels Farm Bill Markup


by Chris Clayton, DTN Ag Policy Editor

WASHINGTON (DTN) — In a surprising reversal, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., announced late Tuesday night she would delay today’s scheduled markup of the farm bill.

Southern farm organizations had pushed for the delay, unhappy with the details released last week in the draft version of the bill.

Stabenow announced the cancelation of Wednesday’s markup with a statement released at 10:45 p.m. EDT.

“The Agriculture Committee has made significant progress and have bipartisan agreement on the bulk of the farm bill. We are committed to continuing to work together in a bipartisan way as we come to agreement on a few outstanding issues. This is a bill that impacts 16 million jobs and a huge sector of America’s economy, and it is important that we move prudently to create the best possible product.”

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., ranking member of the committee, issued a statement as well, saying he supported Stabenow’s decision. “Significant bipartisan progress has been made on many sections of the bill. Just a few issues remain to be worked out. I have given the Chairwoman my commitment to getting this job done. I’m confident the Committee can move forward in a bipartisan manner in the near future.”

The rift among farm groups over the bill became evident Monday when a group of largely Southern commodity groups wrote Stabenow and Roberts calling for a delay. They said in the letter there had been little time to fully examine the full 900-page bill. Yet they had examined the bill long enough to know they didn’t like the commodity title.

“In regard to substance, our first blush impression is that the mark raises serious equity issues and grave concerns over planting distortions,” the letter stated. “We share the committee’s strong desire to produce an equitable bill that avoids the scenario in which the farm bill is driving planting decisions. By providing additional time for members and producers to fully analyze all the impacts of the proposal, the committee can help avoid this result.”

The bill was scored to save more than $26 billion by the Congressional Budget Office but would eliminate direct payments, counter-cyclical payments and the Average Crop Revenue Election program. In its place was a new program that would have a $50,000 payment cap. Cotton farmers would also receive a new crop insurance plan expected to cost more than $3 billion over 10 years.


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Posted with DTN Permission by Haylie Shipp


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