What is in this article?:
- Senate Agriculture Committee passes farm bill out of committee.
- Vote was 15-5.
- Nutrition program spending creates intense debate.
- Some Midwest lawmakers unhappy with target prices set for rice and peanuts.
On a 15-5 vote, the Senate Agriculture Committee passed its new farm bill early Tuesday afternoon. The bill, which will cost taxpayers some $500 billion over a decade, generated the most debate over target prices for rice and peanuts and cuts to nutrition programs.
Read the bill here.
Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, committee chairwoman, said her joint goal with Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, ranking member, was to “craft another strong farm bill that gives farmers the ability to manage their risk that streamlines programs and cuts red tape for farmers and that recognizes the diversity of agriculture from the cotton fields in the Mississippi Delta to the cherry orchards in Traverse City.”
Also atop the agenda: deficit reduction. “Agriculture has been willing to do more than its part from the ‘super committee’ process to the farm bill we passed last year,” continued Stabenow. “This bill reflects agriculture’s cuts from the sequester and goes beyond that in spending reductions by making tough decisions and setting priorities that make sense for farmers, families, and taxpayers.”
The bill, she said, would mean “significant savings” by reducing spending $24 billion over 10 years.
The bill, said Cochran, “reflects fiscal responsibility but provides a workable and strong safety net for families and producers of food and fiber that we hope they never need.
“We’ve made some reductions. We’ve streamlined and consolidated programs. There is also significantly less mandatory money authorized for energy programs than in the 2008 farm bill…
“Farmers and ranchers need the certainty that comes from a five-year farm bill. We have tried to be fair to those affected by this bill, as well as to those who pay the bill. … We hope this is a workable bill that encourages conservation of land and water resources at the same time it rewards production of reasonably-priced commodities.”