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Greg Martin Looking at the 2012 Farm Bill
by Greg Martin, click here for bio

Program: Line on Agriculture
Date: February 03, 2011

Looking at the 2011 Farm Bill. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Line On Agriculture.

Preliminary work is beginning on the 2012 Farm Bill although many feel it will be delayed much as the most recent one was. A lot of politicians are beginning to weigh in on the subject and there is a lot of talk of cuts even before the chute it open. Texas 11th District Congressman Mike Conaway - Chairman of the House Ag Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management - says the new farm bill is going to have to accept funding cuts.

CONAWAY: It is a fact we will have less money to deal with, the baseline. That’s just a given. The financial circumstances in which that ’08 bill was negotiated on versus today, that was done before the financial bust in September of ’08 so the circumstances are a lot different. There’s a school of thought that says we will do it in 2012 and get it done by September 30 when the current bill authorization gives out, that’s pretty ambitious but I think that’s what Frank Lucas’ goal is.

There are others though that are pushing to move it ahead one year to get it past the Presidential campaign. House Ag Chair Frank Lucas has said everything will be on the table when the farm bill debate begins. Conaway agrees that everything must be given a closer look. 

CONAWAY: Last year during the campaign in October we were all screaming and waving flags about cutting spending and reducing the size of the government but it was all in the generic. Now food stamps have got to be in there, spectacular increases in food stamps over the last 2 years particularly on the stimulus plan and then under the other, so if I’m going to take a hard look at Department of Defense spending I‘ve got to take a hard look at all the social programs as well. They got to all be up for a scubbin’ to see what’s working and what’s not working.

Lucas meanwhile says the farm bill debate - once it starts later in 2011 or early in 2012 - will be about choices that the farm community will have to make. Because of limited dollars - it will likely mean that some “good” programs will have to be eliminated to fund “better” ways to have the best farm safety net.

LUCAS: When we set down and look at all these tools in crafting the 2012 Farm Bill the question becomes, how much money do we have? And how do we spend that money in a way that maximizes the return to rural American production agriculture? I’ve been saying now to folks for months and months and months that everything is on the table.

Kansas Senator Pat Roberts will serve as Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Roberts chaired the House Ag Committee as the 1996 Freedom to Farm bill was written. He says his selection ensures farmers and ranchers will have a powerful voice in the upcoming Farm Bill debate.

That’s today’s Line On Agriculture. I’m Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network.

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