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Agricultural News

Senate Ag Committee Ready to Mark Up Farm Bill- Ron Hays Dissects Bill With Mary Kay Thatcher

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 04:07:40 CDT

Senate Ag Committee Ready to Mark Up Farm Bill- Ron Hays Dissects Bill With Mary Kay Thatcher Longtime lobbyist for the American Farm Bureau, Mary Kay Thatcher, applauds Senate Ag Committee Chairlady Debbie Stabenow and her ranking minority member, Pat Roberts of Kansas for releasing a "chairman's mark" farm bill draft proposal this past Friday- saying these days in Washington, it 's the exception rather than the rule to see Democrats and Republicans working in the same direction. The Senate Ag Committee will take up the measure and consider amendments to it starting Wednesday morning, hoping to quickly pass a comprehensive 2012 Farm Bill out of their Committee.

Thatcher says that the Commodity Title will be the focus of most debate and possible changes, as she considers the rest of the package "very well done." Thatcher especially thinks the Conservation Title protects the working lands programs well, consolidates regional specialty programs into one larger pot of money that will be more efficient and downsizes the Conservation Reserve Program gradually over a five year period from 32 million acres down to 25 million acres. Mandatory research dollars are actually increased compared to the 2008 farm law-another positive for Thatcher.

As for Title One- the Commodity Title, Thatcher says the leadership has approached a farm safety net as a three legged stool- crop insurance, marketing loans and the so called "shallow loss" program. It's that third element that concerns many in the farming community, and Thatcher says that her group would still rather have a "deep loss" program instead.

As for the path forward in getting a farm bill done in 2012- it's not clear what happens after the Senate Ag Committee reports out a bill- which could happen even this week. Thatcher says the next step would be either to wait on the House Ag Committee to move forward with mark up of their version of a bill- or to convince Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to provide Floor Time to debate the Senate version of a bill quickly. A strong bi-partisan vote in favor of the Senate bill might convince Reid to allow the bill to come to the floor this spring.

You can hear our full conversation with Mary Kay Thatcher of the American Farm Bureau on the ins and outs of the 2012 Farm Bill debate- as well as discussion of other imporant issues like the Death Tax that still must be dealt with before the end of the calendar year. Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear that full conversation.


Ron Hays talks with Mary Kay Thatcher of the AFBF on the anticipated 2012 Farm Bill Markup in the Senate Ag Committee
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