Senate Reaches Agreement to Consider Farm Bill >>

June 19th, 2012

Senate Reaches Agreement to Consider Farm Bill

On June 18th, the Senate reached a consent agreement to proceed to consideration of S. 3240, Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012, also known as the Farm Bill. Previously, the bill had been passed out of the Senate Agriculture Committee in April and brought to the floor of the Senate for consideration in June. However, the bill had stalled with over 300 amendments filed to the bill including many unrelated to agriculture programs and looked to be in danger of not being considered. Now, the Senate has reached an agreement to only consider 73 of the filed amendments and then proceed to final consideration of the bill.

The Senate Farm Bill does make a number of changes including replacing the current direct and countercyclical payments program with a new crop insurance program, streamlining conservation programs, and cutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The bill is expected to cut $23.6B from agriculture programs over the next 10 years. In addition, there are a few provisions specifically affecting Indian country including the reauthorization of Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, greater flexibility in the funding arrangements for conservation programs for tribes, the reauthorization of programs for the 1994 Land Grant Educational Institution, and the easing of some credit restrictions on farm operations on tribal land, and the streamlining of lending for the highly fractionated land acquisition program.

The amendments to be considered by the Senate cover a broad range of programs from amendments to the new crop insurance provisions, to SNAP, to rural development. Among the amendments to be considered are two tribal specific provisions offered by Senator Akaka. The first (SA 2396) would permanently establish an Office of Tribal Relations within the Department of Agriculture. The second (SA 2440) would further streamline the Department of Agriculture’s highly fractionated land acquisition program.

Although significant opposition remains to the bill both from regional blocs of Senators opposed to the changes in the direct payments programs and from fiscal conservatives, who believe that the bill does not cut enough spending, it is expected that the Senate will pass the Farm Bill.

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