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Intense negotiations on farm policy continue

Agriculture industry is looking for a compromise that will allow the cuts without decimating programs that help farmers in times of unpredictable weather and markets.

Intense negotiations continued in Washington, D.C., this week as congressional leaders and farm policy stakeholders try to find a way to cut $23 billion from ag programs while maintaining a workable safety net for producers across the country.

The deadline by which the heads of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees told the super committee they would offer a legislative proposal for the cuts came and went 10 days ago.

The farm community is looking for a compromise that will allow the cuts without decimating programs that help farmers in times of unpredictable weather and markets. Talks are centering around ideas for a revenue program with price protection to supplement crop insurance coverage, which most farmers consider the core of the safety net.

Talking to reporters at the National Association of Farm Broadcasters’ Trade Talk, NAWG President Wayne Hurst, a farmer from Burley, Idaho, said wheat leadership continues to work with many Members of Congress and fellow ag groups as the process develops.

Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Senate Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) are the key negotiators in the process thus far, though Members of both Committees and other ag-state leaders are also heavily involved.

Key policymakers include Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), a member of the super committee and the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), a key author of past farm bills and the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee. All four Ag Committee principals, Baucus, Conrad and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who is a co-chair of the super committee, are from states with extensive wheat production.

In mid-October, leaders of the Congressional Ag Committees told the super committee agriculture-jurisdiction programs should be cut by no more than $23 billion on top of more than $40 billion in cuts and spending reductions in recent years.

NAWG’s policy priorities for the negotiations are outlined in a letter recently sent to Congress, which is at http://www.wheatworld.org/wp-content/uploads/farmbill-letter-on-ag-policy-deficit-reduction-20111025.pdf.

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