Over the next several weeks
the 2012 farm bill will be the topic of discussion in the U.S. Senate. As of last week, 180 amendments to the Agriculture Committee’s bill had been filed for debate.
Several of the amendments deal with crop insurance, including an amendment from Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) that would require a GAO report on crop insurance fraud. Senators from both sides of the isle are proposing amendments around crop insurance, including Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), who submitted several amendments concerning the topic.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), one of four senators on the Ag Committee who voted against the bill as it headed for the Senate floor, not only submitted an amendment that limits crop insurance reimbursements but also suggested decreasing SNAP funding and increasing money allocated for the fresh fruit and vegetable program. That program is getting quite a bit of attention, considering the scope of the bill. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is seeking for dried, canned and frozen fruits and veggies to be included in the USDA managed program.
The dairy titles of the bill have been receiving quite a bit of attention throughout the process, and several amendments filed are milk related. Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Gillibrand both seek amendments to the Milk Marketing Orders and the elimination of end-product price formulas for Class III milk.
Subsidies brought discussion as imagined. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) filed an amendment that would prohibit individuals with delinquent tax debt from receiving subsidies. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) would like to place a $40,000 cap on the subsidy amount a producer can be paid each year. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) would like to repeal the estate tax.
Policy analysts say it will take weeks for the Senate to reach a farm bill that they agree on. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), chair of the committee, says she believes the Senate can get it done
and have a finished bill by the current bill’s expiration in late September.
9 Quirky Farm Bill Amendments
The following are a few of the unique suggestions that have been made for what to include in the farm bill.
- Prohibit members of Congress from participating in federal farm programs.
- Study on sugary drinks.
- Require USDA to take steps to ensure FSA office closures would have clear, commonsense criteria.
- Organic crop insurance.
- Provide a state option for cash equivalents for the purchase of locally produced commodities.
- Authorize interstate traffic of unpasteurized milk.
- Impose tariff-rate quotas on certain casein and milk protein concentrates.
- Prohibit federal campaign funds for use on party conventions.
- Provide no U.S. assistance to Pakistan until Dr. Shakil Afridi is freed.