The Senate voted 90-8 to begin debate on the 2012 Farm Bill, S. 3240, “The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act.” Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-KS) are working together in trying to get this bipartisan bill passed. Senator Stabenow told the Senate, “If Congress cannot come together in a bipartisan way and pass this bill, it will create tremendous uncertainty and job losses in communities all across America and have a serious impact on economic recovery.”
Senator Roberts reminded members of the Senate that if it fails to pass a farm bill, federal programs will revert to the 1949 act and that would create “chaos in the countryside.” Stabenow and Roberts continue to highlight the major changes in this bill – cuts over $23 billion in mandatory spending; eliminates four commodity programs – direct payments, counter-cyclical program, Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program and Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) program and replaces them with a single, new revenue-based program and also increases emphasis on crop insurance; streamlines 23 conservation programs into 13 programs to avoid duplication; and eliminates and streamlines over 100 programs and authorizations in the bill.
They argue the bill reforms, reduces and streamlines programs while maintaining a safety net for the farmers and ranchers, natural resources and the needy. There could be over 200 amendments offered during the Senate debate. Some amendments that are expected include:
There are some senators who are talking of offering nonfarm bill amendments (aid to Pakistan, effects of defense cuts, ban federal funds for national political conventions, etc.), which will cause major problems.