Sen. Debbie Stabenow seeks farm bill deal with South
As negotiations on the 2012 Farm Bill continue to broil, competing factions in Congress are battling for their own interests. Sure, Republicans and Democrats are as split as they have ever been, but much of the struggle to write the Farm Bill has to do with a different divide: Midwest vs. South.
The Farm Bill shapes agriculture and food policy for the entire country, but farming is different in each region. Lawmakers are finding it difficult to draw up an all-encompassing Farm Bill.
In general terms, Southern lawmakers are worried that the Senate’s draft of the 2012 Farm Bill is much kinder to corn and wheat interests than it is to crops that are grown in their region, like rice and peanuts. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, is hoping the regional rift won’t doom the bill, according to Politico.
With her farm bill now slated for the Senate floor in June, Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow is reaching out to Southern lawmakers, trying to heal the breach that split her panel last month and put her at odds with allies in the House.
Crop insurance, and its different forms, is the most pressing issue.
The Senate bill would invest tens of billions in a new government funded revenue insurance program that most immediately benefits Midwest crops like corn and soybeans. The singular nature of peanuts, in which Southern growers move in and out of the crop from one year to the next, makes it harder to adapt to a system based on five-year averages. And Southern rice growers have never subscribed heavily to crop insurance because their fields are flooded and thus less susceptible to drought.
With Farm Bill negotiations ongoing, the vast regional differences in U.S. agriculture are on full display.
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