A lot is up in the air right now when it comes to the 2012 Farm Bill including how much money will be available and when it will actually be written. Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., says the timing will largely depend on what the Super Committee does, which is where she and her ag colleagues are focused right now.
"First and foremost we are focused on the recommendations that we are being asked to give to this joint committee, this Super Committee," Stabenow said. "We are focusing on proactive policy changes rather than just giving them a list of areas to cut. My colleagues and I are working on a bipartisan basis to come to an agreement on a set of policies that would actually make sure that our farmers and small businesses are able to be successful and have the tools they need when they need it and at the same time providing real and credible reforms to reduce the deficit."
Several farm policy plans have started circulating. The President outlined his own thoughts about ag spending cuts this week in his deficit reduction plan. Stabenow says she doesn't support his crop insurance cuts, but she is in favor of ag and commodity groups putting their own ideas together and bringing those to lawmakers. The National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union and National Cotton Council have all stepped forward with ideas.
As for the House and Senate Ag leadership, Stabenow says a process hasn't been decided, but discussions have started.
"Leadership in the House and Senate are talking and working together and certainly are sharing ideas," Stabenow said. "I think we all share a concern for what we are seeing, both the cuts that came out of the House, and proposals by the President. Other proposals that have been made are very concerning and we know that to the extent that we can work together and come together on a joint set of ideas that that is definitely in the best interest of agriculture and the broader economy."
Stabenow says it will also give them the best way to provide responsible proposals to bring down the national debt.