Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., this morning downplayed the significance of a dispute over the number of amendments that will be debated on the farm bill. (S 3240). She told reporters she is “very confident that we will continue to move forward and continue to get it done.”
There are ongoing negotiations among senators to limit the number of germane amendments, but it will be left to the leadership to decide what non-germane proposals will be considered, she said. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is pressing for votes on five regulatory issues, including child labor rules and Dodd-Frank.
Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., set votes today on just two amendments _ one that would abolish the sugar program and another to give states control of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Stabenow also said she has encouraged discussions between Kent Conrad, D-N.D., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., over a possible amendment that could make the bill’s commodity title more palatable to Southern farmers. “I told them I think it’s very important that we keep talking and looking at options and getting scores.” But, she said, “At this point we haven’t had anything given to us to react to.”
Rice and peanut growers are particularly unhappy with the bill’s shift from direct payments to the Agriculture Risk Coverage program that is designed to compensate for revenue losses not covered by crop insurance.