Farm Bill Update from the National Farmers Union – June 6th, 2012

Here's a Farm Bill Update from the National Farmers Union - June 6th, 2012. Questions can be referred to NFU at Full Senate to Debate Farm Bill This Week; Amendments Expected. The farm bill passed in April by the Senate Agriculture Committee (also known as the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012) is set to be debated on the floor of the Senate this week. The best guess at this point is that the bill will be brought up for a cloture vote tomorrow, which would then open up further debate and the opportunity to offer amendments. A final vote is notl ikely to occur until the following week and many hurdles remain. There’s still a good deal of disagreement about what changes need to be made to thebill and, as a result, many amendments will probably be put forward. Although it remains to be determined if a limit on amendments will be imposed, there is much speculation as to what these amendments might be. Below are two lists of amendments – those that are almost certain to be offered and some that might be brought forward. This list is not all-inclusive and is subject to significant change. The senator(s) that is expected to offer the amendment is in parenthesis, if known. Amendments that are almost certain to be brought up:

1) A limit on the total amount of crop insurance premium subsidies a farmer could receive in a year (Sens. Durbin and/or Coburn); 2) Limits on eligibility for crop insurance, based on adjusted gross income (AGI); 3) Linking crop insurance participation with conservation compliance (Sen. Cardin); 4) Increased funding for rural development programs (Sen. Brown of Ohio); 5) Loosening restrictions on chemical usage by adding H.R. 872 (the “Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act”) as an amendment; 6) More flexibility in farm-to-school local foods programs; 7)Reinstating a countercyclical program for covered commodities that providesstronger protection against long-term price collapse; 8) New standards for the housing of egg-laying hens; 9) Eliminate cuts to SNAP and add funds to fruit and vegetable program, while reducing support levels for crop insurance companies (Sen. Gillibrand); 10) Require that 5 percent of annual funding for Agriculture and Food Research Initiative prioritize public cultivar and breed development through classical breeding (Sen. Tester); 11) Expand mandatory funding for Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (Sen. Udall of New Mexico)

Amendments that may come to the floor: 1) A ban on packer ownership of livestock (Sen. Grassley); 2) Requiring USDA to regularly publish statistics about the level of competition in agricultural markets, especially livestock; 3)  Remove the 5 percent organic crop insurance surcharge and direct RMA to publish organic price elections within a specific amount of time for all organic crops (Sen. Merkley); 4) Eliminate mandatory promotion and marketing (checkoff) programs (Sen. DeMint of SouthCarolina).

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