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Stabenow: Progress on farm bill for consideration next week

As the Senate prepared to go out of session until next week, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said late today that she has made progress on putting together a package of amendments to the farm bill next week.

“We made very good progress today. We overcame some obstacles, we put something together for the Senate for the beginning of the week,” Stabenow said at the conclusion of a week in which the Senate made no serious progress on the bill.

Stabenow repeated many of her earlier statements that the farm bill affects 16 million people who hold agriculture-related jobs and that the bill needs to be passed so that the agriculture, one of the bright spots in the economy, remains strong and continues its strong export record.

“I don’t believe there is a middle class in this country unless we make things and grow things,” Stabenow said, adding that in Michigan “one of the bright spots for us even during the deepest, toughest times has been agriculture.”

Stabenow did not mention the target price program amendment that Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D, filed today.

Some lobbyists have said that it was impossible for the Senate to reach agreement on a package of amendments until Conrad and his allies filed that amendment.

Stabenow has strongly defended the commodity title that she and Senate Agriculture ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., have developed, but also said she realizes there have to be compromises with rice and peanut growers who have not been satisfied with that program.