Farm Bill Pits North vs. South

| December 18, 2012
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Washington (DTN) — The continuing battle between the North and South over the commodity title in the farm bill broke out again this past weekend as a coalition of 33 senators called for the inclusion of the Senate-passed farm bill in an end-of-the-year legislative package.

One southern commodity group created a map showing that the senators who signed the letter were all from northern states and declared the Senate bill to be unfair to the South.

The letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was organized by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.  In the bipartisan letter, the 33 senators called for the passage of the farm bill before the end of the year and said that bill should be passed by the Senate in June.

“With each passing day, the difficulty of enacting a farm bill before the end of this Congress grows,” the senators wrote in a letter dated Friday, Dec. 14.  “Congress must do the responsible thing and pass a full, five-year reform farm bill.  Accordingly, we urge you to consider folding in the Senate’s strong bipartisan bill in any end-of-the-year package.”

In their news releases, several senators were more vigorous in their statements than in the letter.

“The farm bill is a jobs bill and there is no excuse to put rural jobs on hold any longer.  The Senate passed a strong, bipartisan farm bill months ago that is ready to be signed into law right now,” Baucaus said. 

The potential impact of the letter is uncertain because only one-third of senators signed it and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Senate Agriculture ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., did not add their signatures.

Stabenow and Roberts have made a compromise offer on the farm bill to the House Agriculture Committee, but House committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla. and ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., have rejected it as inadequate.

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