The Senate began its debate on the FY15 Agriculture Appropriations Bill on Wednesday. The Senate bill, which passed out of the appropriations committee in May with no objections, is now being considered as part of a “minibus” of appropriations bills that also includes Commerce, Justice, Science and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bills. 

It is still unclear how debate for the agriculture spending bill will progress since no agreement on amendments has been made. Meanwhile, Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) filed an amendment yesterday that would reprogram $2 million in the Natural Resources and Conservation Serve (NRCS) budget to address the backlog of wetlands determinations in all states. 

In a statement regarding his amendment Thune said, “With a backlog of more than 3,000 undetermined wetlands in South Dakota these farmers cannot apply any water management practices on their land because they do not know where NRCS will determine wetlands are located. Some farmers have been waiting two or more years for these determinations.” 

This provision is even more important now with the impending implementation of applying conservation compliance requirements to crop insurance premium assistance. NAWG is supportive of Senator Thune’s efforts to address the backlog issues in South Dakota and other states in the prairie pothole region.

Late Thursday, the appropriations “minibus” was pulled from the Senate floor schedule when Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) unveiled his plan for amendments. Senator Reid wanted to require a 60-vote threshold for amendments to pass; a strategy that Republicans rejected causing the Senate to pull the bill and the path forward to passage left unclear.