Senate Agriculture Committee

‘Let’s get serious,’ says Stabenow, proposing 2024 farm bill

With the new farm bill months overdue, Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow proposed a farm bill on Wednesday that would boost so-called reference prices — a roadblock issue — while rejecting the $28 billion cut in SNAP sought by conservative Republicans. “That is a hard red line for me,” Stabenow told reporters.

Republicans would put half of climate funding into commodity subsidies, says Stabenow

Senate Agriculture chairwoman Debbie Stabenow rejected on Thursday a Republican proposal to move several billion dollars of climate funds into the commodity title of the farm bill. “No, the answer to that is no,” Stabenow said at an expo on climate-smart agriculture practices.

Senate Republicans renew bid to shift climate funds

Pointing to a “once-in-a-generation opportunity,” Republican staffers on the Senate Agriculture Committee proposed on Wednesday shifting more than $13 billion earmarked separately for climate mitigation into USDA land stewardship programs. Under Congress’ arcane budget rules, the transfer would result in a long-term increase of $1.8 billion a year for stewardship, they said, “subject only to congressional reauthorization.”

Stabenow open to reference price proposals, a farm bill obstacle

In a bid to break the farm bill deadlock, Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow said that she was “open to proposals” to increase so-called effective reference prices for all crops in the U.S. farm program but would not accept cuts in SNAP or climate funding. “If we’re going to get a farm bill done this spring to keep farmers farming, it’s time to get serious,” she said in a letter to all senators.

Stabenow sees farm bill passage in 2024, later than hoped

The new farm bill will not enacted until next year because of continuing disagreements over issues such SNAP benefits and higher crop subsidies, said Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow on Wednesday. “I am committed to passing a strong, bipartisan farm bill as soon as possible,” she said, but the process is taking longer than hoped.

Ag leaders discussing farm bill extension

The senior Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee “is having conversations about an extension” of the 2018 farm law into the new year, said a spokesperson on Wednesday. Farm leaders in Congress have said they intend to enact a new farm bill by late December, but a legislative logjam is growing on Capitol Hill.

Defense bill may be route for limiting foreign farmland ownership

Although two senators identified the farm bill as a potential way to restrict foreign ownership of U.S. farmland, Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow said on Wednesday that the annual defense authorization act seemed a better bet. Senators added language to the defense bill in July to prohibit China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea from purchasing U.S. farmland and agricultural companies.

Stabenow: ‘Everything keeps getting in our way’

The looming government shutdown is an example of the roadblocks facing the new farm bill, Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow told reporters on Wednesday. “Everything keeps getting in our way,” she said. “It’s an unusual time.”

Don’t water down climate funding, says Stabenow

Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow curtly rejected on Thursday a suggestion to divert climate change funding for agriculture to more generalized soil and water conservation work. “I know that there is a broad coalition of support standing with me,” she said.

Stronger farm bill is antidote for weakening income, says GOP report

Congress should provide a “meaningful enhancement” of crop subsidies and the crop insurance program in light of declining farm income, said Republican staff workers on the Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday. “Headwinds persist in the U.S. farm economy,” they said in a report, pointing to a slowdown in farm exports, weakening commodity prices, high production costs, and rising interest rates.

Tap USDA funds to boost food aid and exports, say senators

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack should tap a USDA reserve fund to expand international food aid and export promotion programs, said the leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee in a letter released on Wednesday.

South would be hit hardest by USDA crop subsidy update

Growers in the U.S. South could lose $1.4 billion in farm subsidies over the next decade if Congress decides to align payments more closely with the crops they produce, said an analysis by Republicans on the Senate Agriculture Committee. “A mandatory base acre update would create winners and losers ... and most certainly complicate efforts to pass a new farm bill,” said the analysis.

Senator warns of farm-size conflict in farm bill negotiations

At the same time that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called for more attention to small and midsize farmers, who see limited revenue from agriculture, a key Southern senator cautioned on Thursday against “a small farm versus big farm conflict” in writing the new farm bill. Large-scale operators collect the lion’s share of U.S. farm subsidies at present because payments are tied to production volume.

Rising cost of SNAP could drive farmers out of farm bill coalition, says Boozman

The price tag for SNAP is going up so quickly — doubling during the pandemic — that it will poison support for the farm subsidy and land stewardship programs that make up the rest of the farm bill, said the senior Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday. “You are going to crowd out our ability ... to use funds on other programs,” said Arkansas Sen. John Boozman.

Strengthen the farm safety net and rely less on bailouts, say farm-state senators

The government has spent nearly $70 billion on disaster, trade war, and pandemic relief since the 2018 farm bill was enacted, a huge amount that shows the need for a strong farm safety net that’s written into law rather than on the fly, said farm-state senators on Thursday. They called for a stronger and expanded crop insurance program as the first line of support for farmers and ranchers against uncertain weather, volatile commodity markets, and rising production expenses.

Nutrition, conservation advocate Stabenow to retire in two years

Senate Agriculture chair Debbie Stabenow, who rejected Republican attempts to slash SNAP in the 2014 and 2018 farm bills, said on Thursday that she would retire from the Senate in two years — enough time to enact another farm bill. Stabenow, the first woman elected to the Senate from Michigan, is serving her second stint as Agriculture chair and has said for months that “we’re not going backwards” on SNAP in the new farm bill.

The ‘four corners’ of ag policy are back for the farm bill

House Democrats elected Georgia Rep. David Scott as their leader on the Agriculture Committee on Thursday for the congressional session that begins on Jan. 3. The vote means the “four corners” of the 2023 farm bill will be the same four lawmakers who led the House and Senate ag committees for the past two years.

Food stamp fights are possible in 2023 farm bill, says Stabenow

Although lawmakers may try to cut SNAP benefits as part of the farm bill due in 2023, “we’re not going backwards,” said Senate Agriculture Committee chair Debbie Stabenow at a food conference on Thursday. Deadline for the bill is Sept. 30, although “oftentimes there has to be an extension. So that may happen.”

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