For now a final vote on the farm bill is expected sometime next week once legislators return from the Memorial Day recess. Leadership has indicated the farm bill will come to the House floor mid-month. As the Senate adjourned last week Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow expressed confidence that they would finish the bill in June. But she says it will be a challenge in the House.
“Last year they couldn’t even bring it up for a vote. There are many people that are particularly of the most extreme elements of the Republican party, the Tea Party folks and so on, who don’t think that we should do anything to support agriculture or nutrition or conservation. I mean they don’t think we should do a farm bill, at all. So I think it’s going to be a tough road in the House but I think there is a good, bi-partisan coalition and I’m hopeful they’re going to be successful.”
Stabenow says agricultural research is a priority – and notes the committee included a provision in the farm bill to establish a Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research.
“This is a new public-private sector foundation that we’re setting up, and they will have an independent board to look at the needs for agricultural research. We’ve seen a tremendous amount of cutbacks in research, both in agricultural research and health research, other areas that we don’t see every day but have a long term impact in our economy and our ability to continue to have jobs, so I want to make sure in agriculture that we have a strong research base focused on solving problems for the future.”
The Senate Agriculture Committee passed the farm bill on May 14th with a bipartisan 15 to 5 vote. Stabenow has said the bill represents major reform of agriculture programs – yielding a total of 24-billion dollars in spending cuts by eliminating direct payments to farmers, consolidating programs to end duplication and cracking down on food assistance abuse.
Source: NAFB News Service