Senate to Debate Farm Bill
June 1, 2012

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) expects the Farm Bill proposal passed by her committee to be brought up for floor debate in early June. 
 
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) confirmed that Stabenow hit her target by generating $23.6 billion in savings in the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act. With a total 10-year cost projected at $969 billion, the bill would spend $23.6 billion less over 10 years than if current Farm Bill programs remained in place, the CBO report showed. Over the actual five-year life of the Farm Bill from 2013-2017, the Senate bill would save about $9.3 billion. 
 
There will probably be a lot of amendments offered and debated. These will include efforts to cut the food stamp program, tighten payment limits, restore target prices and link conservation compliance to crop insurance participation, among others. Stabenow claims to have the 60 votes needed to pass the Farm Bill. 
 
The Senate Agriculture Committee-passed Farm Bill proposal replaces direct and counter cyclical payments with a new Agricultural Risk Coverage program. 
 
It appears that the House Farm Bill proposal will be significantly different from the Senate bill. The House bill, which has not yet been written, is expected to retain the target price - counter cyclical payment system (at least for some crops) and make much deeper cuts to food and nutrition programs instead. Ranking member Collin Peterson (Minn.) thinks the bills in both houses must be passed by early August to be approved yet this year. That's a critical deadline because the current Farm Bill expires Sept. 30 of this year. 
 
Reprinted in part from Cattle Trader Center