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Agriculture News As It Happens

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Stabenow postpones farm bill markup

The markup on the 2012 farm bill scheduled for Wednesday morning has been postponed, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., announced late tonight.

“The Agriculture Committee has made significant progress and have bipartisan agreement on the bulk of the farm bill,” Stabenow said in a news release.

“We are committed to continuing to work together in a bipartisan way as we come to agreement on a few outstanding issues. This is a bill that impacts 16 million jobs and a huge sector of America’s economy, and it is important that we move prudently to create the best possible product.”

Roberts said he supported Stabenow’s decision.

“Significant bipartisan progress has been made on many sections of the bill,” he said. “Just a few issues remain to be worked out. I have given the chairwoman my commitment to getting this job done. I’m confident the committee can move forward in a bipartisan manner in the near future.”

An aide to a Republican member of the committee emailed a lobbyist, "Despite significant progress made, with the late hour and no final score on manager’s amendment and other member’s amendments, we will need to postpone the markup. More information to come.”

Southern farm groups and the Minnesota and Colorado corn growers have called for a postponement of the markup until after the week-long recess that begins this weekend.

The American Farm Bureau Federation called today for the markup to move forward as planned, and Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan had also said that USDA expected the markup to be held.

In a sign of the behind-the-scenes tensions among farm groups, one commodity lobbyist said the postponement showed that "the concerns of the [commodity] groups prevailed over the hastiness of the Farm Bureau."