On Thursday (Feb. 28), the Senate failed to pass a replacement bill for the sequester that is slated to take effect March 1.

Sequestration is an across-the-board reduction in spending mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011.  In an effort to turn off sequestration, which is estimated at $85.3 billion for fiscal year 2013, the Senate Democrats proposed raising taxes, cutting defense spending, and cutting the traditional farm safety net. The proposed cuts to the traditional farm safety net are $31 billion, which is a 53 percent reduction. 

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Oklahoma Rep. Frank Lucas, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee said, “It is disappointing that the Senate has failed to pass a replacement for the sequester, and more importantly has failed to pass a budget in nearly four years. But, I am pleased they rejected the Reid-Stabenow plan, which unfairly targeted agriculture. America's farmers and ranchers deserve better than to be used as a pawn in a political game.

"The agriculture portion of their proposal called for a 50 percent cut to a single title in the farm bill that accounts for six percent of overall agriculture spending and less than one percent of overall federal spending. Further, the Reid-Stabenow proposal called for tax increases while adding money to a laundry list of pet projects.

"Our agricultural producers remain committed to being a part of the solution to our fiscal crisis, but a plan that is made up of half tax increases and half cuts to agriculture and defense is an absurd approach to balancing a budget."

Andrew Grobmyer, executive vice president of the Agriculture Council of Arkansas, issued the following statement:

“The Agricultural Council of Arkansas appreciates (Arkansas Senators Pryor and Boozman)for making the right decision to vote against the Reid proposal (S. 388) that would have eliminated the direct payment program as part of a ‘sequestration alternative.’We were pleased to see this ill-advised proposal be defeated.

“Forcing Arkansas farmers to shoulder our nation’s budget deficit on their own is a bad idea. Congress should not eliminate important farm programs without providing viable alternative risk management tools for Arkansas farmers. We would hope that Congress would be wise enough to find better solutions to address the challenges facing our nation’s budget.If enacted, S. 388 would have caused substantial harm to farmers, rural banks and agribusinesses, and rural economies in Arkansas.”