Senate Approves Two More Farm Bill Amendments, But Final Deal Remains Elusive

June 3, 2013 11:30 PM
 
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Agreement sought on time and number of amendments

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.


After clearing two noncontroversial farm bill amendments on Monday, the Senate today will return to the matter, as Monday saw Senate ag leaders trying to reach an accord on the time and number of amendments. Tributes to honor Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) who died early Monday could also impact the farm bill vote timeline.

Insurance for alfalfa. On Monday, the Senate voted 72-18 to approve an amendment to require USDA to develop an insurance product for alfalfa. The language, pushed by Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), requires the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation to carry out research and development regarding a crop insurance program for alfalfa.

Food aid. Another amendment approved on voice vote and proposed by Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) would increase from $40 million to $60 million the amount of food aid that could be purchased locally under the farm bill.

Hoping for amendment agreement. Senate Ag Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss,), ranking Ag panel member, late Monday were still trying to reach an amendment accord, as Senators previously filed around 230 amendments to the bill (S 954). The goal is to reach a unanimous consent agreement that would allow the Senate to vote on several amendments before moving to a vote on final passage without having to file cloture. If the two are unable to reach an amendment agreement, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is expected to file a cloture petition to end debate on the farm bill, with a vote on cloture coming Thursday, which could conflict with ceremonies planned for Lautenberg. Some lawmakers suggested the farm bill debate could carry into early next week without impacting debate and votes on an immigration reform measure (S 744) the week of June 10.

As for action ahead, lobbyists for conservation and wildlife groups are focusing on an amendment from Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) that would keep farmers from having to restore wetlands drained and converted to crops over the past five years. Farmers in these cases – notably North Dakota – have left the basic federal farm programs that require them to meet soil, water and wetland protection requirements but instead are covered by crop insurance, which currently has no compliance conservation or environmental standards.



NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.


 


 

 

 

 

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