Pace of 2012 Farm Bill Intensifies

Senator Kent Conrad regarding the 2012 Farm Bill Are the programs of the 2012 Farm Bill that impact your organization being moved forward right NOW? This week Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) Chairman of the US Senate Budget Committee kept up the intense pace of his Committee hearing schedule by bringing leading economists to testify on topics including the state of the U.S economy and new ideas for the U.S. tax system.  Conrad and Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (R-AL) are working on the Senate’s version of a Budget Resolution in anticipation and response to the Administration’s budget proposal due on Capitol Hill February 14.  

Plowing Forward

Chairman Conrad’s current Budget Committee hearing pace and expected Budget Resolution will pave the way and provides fiscal guidance for other Senate committees as they begin deliberations on important legislation like the 2012 Farm Bill.  Every five years Farm Bill provisions must be reauthorized and the provisions in the current law are set to expire in September 2012.  Upon expiration, the law reverts back to 1949 Agriculture Adjustment Act.  Incoming Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has already indicated the first Farm Bill hearing will be April 9 at Michigan State University.

Going Out with Style!

During the 2008 reauthorization of the farm bill, Conrad was instrumental in keeping the farm policy process moving ahead and ensuring Senate provisions were considered in the final bill during conference.  Considering he is from a farm state, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and the 112th session being Conrad’s last in the Senate because of retirement, Senator Conrad will likely be more favorable to the agriculture budget baselines as he constructs the Senate’s version of a 5-year (FY 2012) budget resolution.  Conrad’s budget proposal will need to be complimentary to agriculture as a counter balance to:

  1. farm program cuts already proposed by the Administration in their budget submission last year (for FY 2011);
  2. and more recently proposed cuts to sugar price supports and other farm programs made by the House Republican Study Committee (RSC) which accounts for more than two-thirds of House Republicans.  See the RSC proposal (PDF).

Senators Conrad and Stabenow’s early pace may accelerate consideration of the farm bill by both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees in the 112th Congress.  This may mean the farm bill will be reauthorized sooner rather than later as the legislative calendar is certain to be shortened by the upcoming elections of 2012 when the President, 23 democratic senators, 10 republican senators and the entire US House of Representatives will be vying for re-election.

Hitting You?

Are your programs hanging in the balance?  Decisions are being made NOW by lawmakers that will significantly impact, if not eliminate, important programs authorized in the Farm Bill.   Now, more than ever, you need an advocate in Congress to educate decision-makers on the importance of your programs.  Cansler Consulting is your experienced, informed and connected solution.  Call us now at (202) 220-3150.

Tim Cansler