WASHINGTON, June 6, 2012- Senator John Thune, R-S.D., said obstacles to passing the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 through the Senate include likely amendments regarding regional differences as well as potential, unrelated amendments that might be proposed during the Farm Bill process.
“The thing to be more concerned about are the non-germane amendments that might be offered,” he said. “Those are the types that could affect the balance.”
Thune noted that although senators representing southern interests are likely to add amendments to the bill, he is confident the required 60 votes exist to bring the legislation to the floor process.
“The votes aren’t there to take it down,” he said. “There’s a strong coalition on both sides that support getting on the bill and to the amendment process and hopefully passing it.”
He believes the odds are better than 50/50 to get the bill passed through the Senate.
“Farmers need certainty, they need to know what the rules are going to be,” Thune said. “If we wind up extending the existing bill, we’re not going to achieve the savings this bill achieves or implement the reforms.”
On his third Farm Bill, Thune said the process always includes a debate about distribution of benefits to different regions of the country and how different commodity groups are treated in the bill. However, he noted that “a lot of outside groups will be attacking this bill even though it saves over the existing policy.”
After the legislation gets through the Senate, Thune said the big concern is whether the House can produce a Farm Bill, noting that he has confidence in the House Agriculture Committee.
“The bigger question is if they can move a bill across the floor with all the pressures they’ll have to deal with there,” he said. “That is more difficult to predict.”
He said he expects the House bill to be more favorable to southern states and include slightly different programs and policies, noting that “then we’ll have to work out those differences” between each chamber's version of the legislation.
“Trying to reconcile those differences and get a bill on the President’s desk before September 30 will be no easy feat,” he added.
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