Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin today announced he had reached agreement on a framework for a Farm Bill with key committee members. Harkin' proposal calls for a new dual system of farm support payments, allowing producers to choose between the current counter-cyclical payments and new revenue protection program that was pushed by the National Corn Growers Association.



Listen to Harkin's comments on the proposal (mp3 audio)



Harkin said there will not be cuts in direct payments to farmers who choose to stay under the current system, but the Congressional Budget Office is anticipating most will choose the revenue protection program.



Listen to Harkin's comments regarding the revenue protection program (mp3 audio)



Other highlights of the proposal include growth of 13 million acres per year to the Conservation Security Program, which Harkin now calls the Conservation Stewardship Program, and $1.3 billion for renewable energy projects and research.



Harkin's bill is significantly different from the Farm Bill that passed the House, but he is confident his version will prevail in conference committee.



Listen to Harkin discussing the major differences between the Farm Bill that passed the House and his version of the bill (mp3 audio)



Harkin said he hopes to begin markup of the Farm Bill in the Agriculture Committee on Wednesday, Oct. 24. Harkin will discuss his Farm Bill proposal live on the nationally-syndicated AgriTalk radio show on Monday, October 22 at 10:06 a.m. CST. Listen live at www.agritalk.com.