Stabenow to oppose farm bill cuts |

Stabenow to oppose farm bill cuts

Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said today that she will oppose any cuts to the farm bill in the budget reconciliation process.

In an exclusive interview with The Hagstrom Report two days before the anniversary of the signing of the farm bill, Stabenow said she is hearing talk of giving each committee an amount to cut within its jurisdiction.

President Barack Obama signed the farm bill on Feb. 7, 2014, in Lansing, Mich.

“My message is we already did our part,” said Stabenow, the second ranking Democrat on the Senate Budget Committee and chairwoman of the Senate Ag Committee when the bill was passed.

“We are the only committee that voluntarily cut spending $23 billion and cut more than 100 programs,” she said.

She noted that the Agriculture committees had come up with an early proposal when it appeared that a supercommittee would undertake budget cuts, and that when the process failed, the Agriculture committees lived up to their promise to cut $23 billion from Agriculture Department programs.

“Universally, people do not want to reopen the farm bill, any part of it,” Stabenow said. If Congress wants to do reconciliation, she added, “they can do it for everybody else.”

Asked whether the Congressional Budget Office’s projections that the commodity title will cost more than estimated because lower crop prices will trigger payments to farmers, Stabenow said that the commodity title could be reexamined “as we go through the five years,” but not now.

The commodity programs “were put in place for a reason,” she said. “We have seen the marketplace change.”

Stabenow said that in a period in which Congress passed so little legislation, she is pleased that a five-year farm bill is in place to give stability to the agricultural sector of the economy.

She also praised the bill for helping Michigan’s cherry farmers, and said she is hearing “very enthusiastic comments” from around the country about the conservation projects to protect watersheds.

Stabenow also cited the programs for farmers markets, local food systems, community gardens and beginning and veteran farmers as major accomplishments.

–The Hagstrom Report

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