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Senate Ag Committee proceeding with farm bill markup

The Senate Agriculture Committee will proceed with a markup of the proposed 2012 farm bill on Wednesday, taking the advice of the American Farm Bureau Federation to proceed with the bill and ignoring pleas from some farm groups to wait until after the one-week congressional recess that begins this weekend.

The markup will begin at 9 am. in the committee’s hearing room, 328-A in the Russell Senate Office Building. Seating space will be extremely limited, but there will be an overflow room for press and the public in Room 188 of the Russell building.

Southern farm groups and the Minnesota and Colorado corn growers asked for the delay.

In a letter to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman urged that the bill be passed out of their committee as soon as possible.

“We have been made aware that late yesterday you received a letter from other organizations stating their desire to offer constructive suggestions for improvements,” Stallman wrote.

“We too have offered such ideas and intend to offer more, but believe it is imperative that this bill be passed out of the Senate Agriculture Committee as soon as possible,” he wrote. “We look forward to the opportunity to share these additional comments with you as you prepare the committee’s work for floor consideration.”

The committee print will be modified and amended throughout this week’s meeting, beginning with a manager’s package of consensus amendments offered by Stabenow and Roberts, at the markup’s outset, a spokesman for Stabenow said in a news advisory.

The Congressional Budget Office late Monday released an estimate of the effects of the legislation on direct spending that showed that the proposal would cut $26.4 billion over the 2013-2022 period, exceeding the committee’s goal of cutting $25 billion.

The committee had intended to cut crop subsidies by $15 billion, but according to CBO the cut would total $19.5 billion. The total cuts for conservation and food stamps also slightly exceed the goals.

The major increases in spending are in research ($646 million), horticulture ($359 million) and crop insurance ($3.2 billion, including $3.1 billion for a new cotton insurance program and $239 million for a peanut program.)