2012 Farm Bill faces gridlock in Congress

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The chance of getting the 2012 Farm Bill approved before the current bill expires Sept. 30 depends on who you ask.

Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, is optimistic on passage of the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 (the Farm Bill). “Many are working in good faith with each other to get us where we need to go,” she said Sunday in remarks to reporters. “If we get this bill passed in the Senate there will be enough momentum to get it done.”

Stabenow and Sen. Pat Roberts, R- Kan., the Committee’s Ranking Member, co-authored the bipartisan bill that saves taxpayers $23 billion.

Sam Carney, past president of the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and co-chair of the NPPC 2012 Farm Bill task force, is not as optimistic. “Even if the Senate and House of Representatives both completed their work on the 2012 Farm Bill, the chance of getting it signed by President Obama is highly unlikely.”

Carney cited opposition to the Senate version of the bill led by southern Senators on the Agriculture Committee over concern for farmers in those states. Late last week, the full Senate voted 90-8 to consider the bill.

The Senate is expected to continue its deliberation of the bill this week. Carney said the best-case scenario for passage of the bill would be that Stabenow and Roberts could prevent controversial amendments from being attached to the farm bill and obtain Senate passage by the end of this week.

“A worst-case scenario would be that southern Senators object to bringing the bill to the Senate floor for a vote resulting in no action,” Carney says.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R. Okla., said that he will not move the House version of the bill unless the Senate completes its version first.

Meanwhile, Carney is resigned to the fact that passage of the 2012 Farm Bill is subject to politics as usual. “It’s truly a wait-and-see situation on how this will play out on the Senate floor.”

To read more information, and a summary of the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012, click here.

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