COLUMBUS — A farm bill may still be possible before 2013 is over. At least that’s what U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown thinks.
Brown spoke at the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s 95th annual meeting Dec. 5 and his top concern is getting a farm bill passed. Brown said he had just gotten off the phone with U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chairman of the senate agriculture committee, and found out that the farm bill is closer to becoming a reality in 2013 than it was last week.
“I was concerned it wouldn’t pass a week ago,” said Brown.
Brown said he expects the farm bill to be discussed when the Senate goes back into session Dec. 9 and has confidence it will be passed in 2013.
“We want to get it done in December,” said Brown. “We’re fairly close to an agreement.”
The Senate passed a version overwhelmingly bipartisan in 2012 and a version this fall. Brown said the question is whether or not House members will get on board. He said many farm groups support the Senate version.
One issue in the farm bill will be crop insurance. Brown said he believes a safety net is needed for all commodities and shouldn’t be limited to corn and soybeans, and that will be addressed in the farm bill.
Brown said the Senate’s version will have to deal with the market rather than the farm program.
Another area they will be looking at is the nutrition area (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program), which is the bulk of the cost for the farm bill. He said the Senate version would handle nutrition in a way that deals with fraud issues, but provides for the disabled, elderly, low income, and those families making $9-10 an hour. Brown was unable to give a price tag for the food stamp portion of the bill.
He emphasized the Senate does not want to extend the current version of the farm bill especially for the dairy industry.
Brown said the farm bill, especially the Title I portion of the bill, has a lot of agreement on conservation enforcement, energy issues, general conservation and rural development.
He added he is confident if the farm bill gets to both floors, it will get passed.
Brown said he talked with U.S. President Barack Obama and he wants the farm bill passed. He said the farm bill is good for economy and the prosperity of Ohio.
“He (Obama) looks at it as a jobs bill,” said Brown.
Brown reminded reporters that one in seven jobs in Ohio are tied to ag.
“Passing a good farm bill is good for the economy,” said Brown
He said Obama knows that when farmers do well, the whole economy is going to do well.