Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., says the Senate Agriculture committee is coalescing around a safety net structure for the 2012 Farm Bill that contains revenue protection and expanded federal crop insurance, but does not include the direct and counter-cyclical payment programs.
"It's very clear as we look at what's happening with the commodity groups, the proposals coming forward, the proposals within the committee from respected members of the committee that we are moving in a similar direction as it relates to a risk management program and a safety net," Stabenow said.
She specifically welcomed the ADAP and STAX revenue-based safety net ideas championed by the National Corn Growers Association and National Cotton Council, respectively, and labeled as thoughtful two Senate proposals to build on changes in the current ACRE program.
"Those are very important pieces of work that colleagues on the committee are coming forward with," Stabenow said. "We are sitting down working with all of them to see where we might come to an agreement."
The American Farm Bureau Federation told Stabenow that direct payments should be maintained. She says that's unlikely given the current budget environment.
"What we're hearing from others, colleagues outside of the Agriculture Committee, there is clearly a bulls-eye on direct payments," Stabenow said. "So I think our job of fighting for production agriculture is to look at how we can, working with the commodity groups, those affected, to find the most effective way to develop a safety net and risk management system that will be supported by our colleagues."
Stabenow says it's unclear whether the joint congressional deficit-cutting committee will tell her and House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., exactly how much money needs to be cut from farm programs.