The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


Farm bill headed for final vote Wednesday after vote-o-rama

The Senate farm bill appears headed for a final vote late Wednesday after a day-long session of voting on amendments today.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., came to the Senate floor this evening to praise the Senate for its discipline in holding debates that were one minute on each side and then to hold 10-minute roll call votes.

Perhaps the most notable votes were on food stamps. The Senate voted today to go along with the proposal of Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., to make a small cut in the food stamp program, rejecting a proposal by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., to take out the cut and another amendment proposed by Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., to make a much bigger cut.

Gillibrand said it was “beneath this body” to cut food stamps, which is now formally known as the supplemental nutrition assistance program or SNAP. But Stabenow defended her proposal to cut $4.5 billion from the program over 10 years, with $500 million of that cut used for other nutrition purposes. Stabenow said the states have been making small payments for heating assistance in order to qualify people for higher food stamp benefits.

The vote on the Gillibrand amendment was 66 against to 33 in favor, a sharp rebuke to anti-hunger lobbyists who had opposed the cut. The vote on the Sessions amendment to cut food stamps was 43 in favor to 56 against.

There was little excitement about amendments affecting farm programs.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, achieved a long time goal of limiting marketing loan gains to $75,000 per farmer. But the Senate did not support an amendment offered by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to eliminate subsidies for farmers with an income of $250,000 or higher.

The Senate is expected to vote in the morning on a resolution by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., regarding the Environmental Protection Agency.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., has scheduled a morning news conference. She will be joined in the call to reporters by:
  • Michel Nischan, CEO, president and founder of Wholesome Wave Network;
  • Robert Guenther, co-chair, Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance and senior vice president for public policy, United Fresh Produce Association;
  • Gene Schmidt, president, National Association of Conservation Districts; and
  • Becky Humphries, director, Great Lakes/Atlantic Region of Ducks Unlimited.