The full Senate began debate on the 2012 Farm Bill this week, taking another step toward passage and completion of new farm and food policy.
The bill is known formally as the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012, or S. 3240.
The body moved to the measure Tuesday after quickly dispensing with another piece of legislation on the docket. Concurrently, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) took steps to end debate on the measure, and a motion to proceed was approved Thursday morning by an overwhelming, 90-8 margin.
The bill would cut $23 billion from federal spending, the vast majority from farm safety net programs, also known as Title I programs.
In bringing the bill to the floor, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said it is not just a farm bill, but “a jobs bill,” with 16 million American jobs dependent on the strength of the agriculture sector.
Jerry Hagstrom, a D.C.-based ag policy reporter who contributes to National Journal, reported Tuesday that a new United Technologies/National Journal poll showed three-quarters of respondents said farm subsidy spending should be kept the same or increased.
By comparison, just two-thirds of respondents said food stamp spending should be kept the same or increased.
The bill also has support from the White House; Thursday afternoon, USDA released a Statement of Administration Policy saying it “makes meaningful progress toward the Administration’s goals.”
Consideration of amendments to the legislation is expected to start next week, probably on Tuesday. While it could be on the floor for two to three weeks, Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) recently told reporters he hoped to finish by June 14.
All indications are that the House Agriculture Committee will mark-up its version of the farm bill before the Fourth of July recess, depending on Senate action.
NAWG will be closely monitoring the bill’s progress and reporting frequently to state associations and board members via e-mail, text message and other outlets.
NAWG and other agriculture groups, farmers and aggie friends are already spreading the message about the need for movement on the farm bill via social media, adding the hashtag #farmbillnow to tweets about farm policy.
Additional resources for following farm bill actions are at:
- http://thomas.loc.gov, searching for S. 3240
More about NAWG’s farm bill work is at www.wheatworld.org/farmbill.