Kansas U.S. Senator Pat Roberts spoke with 580 WIBW/Kansas Ag Network Farm Director Kelly Lenz early Tuesday afternoon after the Senate Agriculture Committee passed their markup of the farm bill late Tuesday morning. The vote was 15-5, with Senator Roberts among the five who voted no. The others were Republican Senators McConnell (Ky), Johanns (NE), and Thune (SD) and Democratic Senator Gillibrand (NY).
These are the comments of Senator Roberts and below that is a summary of what went on during today’s markup in the Senate Ag Committee.
(Politico) – A five-year farm bill quickly cleared the Senate Agriculture Committee Tuesday, despite regional sparring between Midwest and Southern Republicans over revisions in the commodity title to win support from peanut and rice producers.
The 15-5 roll call sets up what could be a cantankerous Senate floor debate this month and Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) appears to be betting that farm-state Republicans will ultimately come together long enough to get to past the 60-vote threshold required to overcome protracted delays.
The House Agriculture Committee is slated to markup its own bill Wednesday, and in making her concessions to Southern growers, Stabenow is also trying to open the door toward a final deal with House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), whose roots lie in the South as well.
Nonetheless, some of the chairwoman’s staunchest allies in last year’s farm bill debate have been lost along the way.
Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, who has been her ranking Republican and partner on the Senate floor a year ago, led the opposition, largely because his unhappiness with a revived target price program tailored to Southern crops.
“This is not a reform bill. This is a rearview mirror bill,” Roberts said. He singled out the target prices set for rice and peanuts as more than equal to the cost of production –“essentially guaranteeing that a farmer profits if yields are average or above average.”
Stabenow bristled a bit at the suggestion that all reform was off the boards. And her bill in fact makes landmark changes in doing away with direct cash payments to producers and tightening eligibility for government subsidies.
The total deficit reduction, as estimated by the Congressional Budget Office, is at least $18 billion over the next 10 years. Counting the additional agriculture related savings impacted by the March 1 sequester order, the total impact would be 24.4 billion in 10-year savings — about $1 billion more than where she stood at this time last year.