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Senate Passes Farm Bill

Senate Passes Farm Bill

The Senate passed the 2012 Farm Bill on a strong bipartisan vote of 64-35.  Senate consideration happened after an agreement was reached by the leadership to consider 73 amendments out of the over 300 amendments that had been filed.  Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Pat Roberts (R-KS), ranking member of the committee, continued to emphasize throughout the debate that the bill cuts over $23 billion in mandatory spending; eliminates four commodity programs – direct payments, counter-cyclical program, Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) 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 argued the bill reforms, reduces and streamlines programs while maintaining a safety net for farmers and ranchers, natural resources and the needy.  The Senate committee bill withstood many challenges.  The key changes in the bill deal with crop insurance.  The amendment by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tom Coburn (R-OK) was approved to reduce premium subsidies by 15% for farmers or legal entities with adjusted gross income above $750,000.  Also approved was Senator Saxby Chambliss’ amendment to tie conservation compliance to crop insurance.   Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was successful in limiting market loan gains and loan deficiency payments under the Agriculture Risk Coverage program to under $75,000.  Senators Stabenow and Roberts deserve a great deal of credit in getting this bill passed.  They and their staffs worked together in a bipartisan manner throughout the entire process.

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