Congressional Ag Leaders React to Farm Bill Vote
House Ag Committee Chairman says the House worked its will with the vote on the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013 Thursday. Lucas is disappointed - but says the forty-billion dollars in deficit reduction, elimination of direct payments and the first reforms to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program since 1996 are important and must be pursued. Lucas says all options are being assessed. He has no doubt that work on the farm bill can be completed and that farmers, ranchers and rural constituents can get the certainty they need. Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson did not express the same optimism. He says he cautioned his colleagues that Republicans and Democrats would have to work together to pass a farm bill. But he says the House adopted a partisan amendment process - playing political games with extreme policies that have no chance of becoming law. Peterson says he'll continue to do everything he can to get a farm bill passed - but he has a hard time seeing where they go from here.
In the Senate - where the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act passed earlier this month on a bipartisan 66 to 27 vote - Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow says the House needs to find a way to get a five-year farm bill done. She says the Speaker needs to work in a bipartisan way and present a bill that Democrats and Republicans can support. Stabenow suggests he could start by bringing the Senate bill to the floor for a vote. She notes the Senate has overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill that reforms farm programs, ends direct payments, cuts spending and creates American agriculture jobs twice. Maintaining the status quo - Stabenow says - means no reform, no deficit reduction and further uncertainty that slows growth in the ag industry. She says that is totally unacceptable.
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