|By Jerry Hagstrom, Agweek Magazine|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The vote was an enormous victory for Senate Agriculture Committee Chair
"The administration greatly appreciates the
The senators who voted against the motion to proceed on the legislation are all Republicans known as fiscal conservatives:
Two Republican senators did not vote:
Stabenow and Roberts issued a news release urging the
"The 2008 farm bill is set to expire at the end of September -- we must pass this common sense bill immediately to give farmers the certainty they need to continue growing the economy," Stabenow said. "Sixteen million American jobs rely on agriculture. The time for reform is now."
"We've cut mandatory spending by
"Notable reforms include eliminating the direct payment system; tightening payment and eligibility requirements; strengthening access to healthy, affordable food; protecting emergency food aid programs and authorities; and increasing flexibility in the delivery of international food aid," the
The statement added that "the administration supports the
But the statement also said that the administration "looks forward to working with the
But the statement did not list any specific objections to the
It's unclear how many amendments there may be on the bill, but some -- both germane and otherwise -- have surfaced. Stabenow said she and Roberts are willing to consider any amendments, as they did in committee.
"If somebody has a problem with the bill, come to us," Stabenow said, adding that members of the committee had brought forward more than 100 amendments and that 44 had been added.
A long list of farm and rural development groups sent senators a letter today urging support for an amendment to be offered by Sen.
For farmers, the most controversial amendments will be those dealing with crop insurance.
Stabenow and Roberts said they would defend crop insurance against cuts.
"Crop insurance is the core," Stabenow said, noting that farmers all over the country had said it is the most important farm program
Roberts said he expects Sen.
Stabenow said she would try to accommodate all amendments, but if she sees that senators are trying to stop the process, she will seek help from the
At the news conference, Stabenow made the case she has made countless times to farm groups: that the bill will save
"Nobody has more risk" than farmers and ranchers, Stabenow said. "It's time to act. We've done our job in bringing this bill out," a reference to her committee's bipartisan passage of the bill in April.
Roberts, a former House Agriculture Committee chairman, noted that this is his seventh farm bill and that this bill really is "dramatic" in its changes.
When other senators ask him why the current bill shouldn't just be extended, Roberts said he tells them that the 2008 bill now in effect is based on 25-year old concepts and acreage bases.
Roberts called the new bill "a good bill, a reform bill, a jobs bill," and said it will help a new generation of farmers, reduce problems
But while Roberts was praising the new revenue-based commodity program, southern rice and peanut growers were encouraging senators to organize against it.
At the news conference, Stabenow and Roberts were flanked by young farmers from
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