WASHINGTON, May 23, 2012- Senator John Thune, R-S.D., reiterated the urgency of passing a new farm bill this year during a conference call with media today. He said it's important that the Senate is quick to act on completing action on the Senate Agriculture Committee’s farm bill in June, allowing the House to develop its farm bill and for each chamber to reconcile differences between the two bills before the September 30 deadline.
Noting that approving a farm bill “will be a much heavier lift in the House,” Thune explained that “there is a deadline here at the end of September, so there’s a sense of urgency about it.”
He said the Senate Agriculture Committee’s proposal “actually saves money” as scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) at more than $23 billion in deficit reduction over ten years.
“So there’s an interest in putting a bill on the floor that actually achieves significant reductions in spending,” he added. “I hope we have the 60 votes we need to shut off debate and keep it from being filibustered.”
Addressing the concerns of southern commodities regarding the new commodity title, Thune said “I hope we can satisfy as much as possible those different commodity groups to get as big a vote as possible in the Senate and House. But this is a bill that’s got a lot of reforms in it.”
He added that in the previous farm bill, “because of direct payments, a lot of payments were going out to people based on base acres that weren’t even planted on that crop anymore.”
“I think you’ll probably see a bill coming out of the House that’s maybe more favorable to southern states or crops like rice and peanuts who don’t think they were treated fairly under this farm bill,” Thune said. “I think the last farm bill was overly favorable to some of those commodities in that region of the country. “
He said the Senate Committee’s proposal “strikes a new balance, but one that’s based on actual planted acres. That’s the direction farm policy needs to be going.”
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