Chairwoman says there’s still time to get a farm bill completed

The Chairwoman of the Senate Ag Committee says there’s still opportunity to get a farm bill done this year.

But, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan tells Brownfield it’s only doable if people set their partisan hats aside.  “Members need to sit down and work together on a bipartisan basis,” she says.  “We absolutely can get this done.”

She says putting a farm bill together in this political climate is challenging, but the committees have worked through difficult political climates before. “2014 bill leadership required us to take a $23 billion cut in the farm bill in that year,” she says. And this year, she says Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is committed to finding an additional $5 billion to add to the farm bill budget. “That would go into these programs where we could then adjust reference prices for the commodities that are not getting 10 to 15% increase under current policy,” she says.

Reference prices have been a sticking point, but the Senator says with changes made to the 2018 Farm Bill, reference prices were adjusted under the price accelerator. “The good news is, most of the 22 crops are going to actually see a 10 to 15% increase in their reference prices and in their payments,” she says.  “Even if we just passed the extended 2018 Farm Bill, which is great. So, that’s already in the baseline. We don’t need to pay for that.”

Stabenow says it still needs to be marked up by the Congressional Budget Office, and that’s a difficult path forward. “They redo and update the baseline and what programs are being used,” she says.

She says once they have numbers in hand, the committee will get to work.

AUDIO: Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow

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