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Stabenow huddles with farm senators

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.
Senate Ag Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., huddled with several farm state senators on the Senate floor today while committee staff made themselves available in a room off the Senate floor to answer questions as the Veterans Day weekend approached.

Stabenow and her staff are working on a farm bill proposal to present to the super committee in charge of deficit reduction.

From the press gallery Stabenow could be seen talking at length with Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., was also observed talking with Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and appeared to be scanning the floor looking for other senators.

Stabenow later told a reporter, “We’re tweaking the bill” and that there might be a final product next week.

Conrad told reporters that that he had talked to Stabenow several times today.

“We don’t have anything in writing,” Conrad said. “It’s impossible to say where we are.”

But he also said he is somewhat more optimistic.

“Look, this is incredibly difficult,” Conrad said, adding that the situation is complicated by the many players, scoring issues and time limits.

Asked whether the problems with wheat had been addressed, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., told The Hagstrom Report, “We're working on it. We’re not there yet.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said, “Debbie’s doing a great job,” adding that the challenge is great.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, told reporters that the senators and staff working on the proposal “are just so tight-lipped,” but said he believes they are making progress because “they say so.”

Stabenow, Senate Agriculture ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., have told the super committee they would agree to a cut of $23 billion in agriculture programs over 10 years, but they want to rewrite the farm bill in the super committee bill because it would not be subject to amendment or filibuster.

The House has not been in session this week, but will return next week. The super committee is scheduled by law to finish its proposal on Nov. 23.