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Published March 05, 2012, 11:29 AM

Farm bill hearing dates moved up

WASHINGTON — The 2012 farm bill finally has started moving in Congress.

By: Jerry Hagstrom, Agweek

WASHINGTON — The 2012 farm bill finally has started moving in Congress.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said she moved up the dates of the last two farm bill hearings so that her committee can move more quickly toward marking up the bill while sources said the House Agriculture Committee is planning field hearings in March and April.

“We just want a little bit more time to negotiate,” Stabenow told reporters after a hearing on conservation, and noting that she would like to finish the markup as soon as possible.

Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., has said he thinks the committee will finish its work by Memorial Day, Stabenow said, but she hopes the committee will act on the bill earlier than that. She declined to say when she thinks the bill might go to the Senate floor, saying that is “the domain” of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Stabenow announced Feb. 27 that the nutrition hearing scheduled for March 14 has been moved to March 7 and that the risk management and commodity hearing scheduled for March 21 has been moved to March 14.

Stabenow has said she wants to write a new five-year farm bill rather than extend the current bill or write a slightly altered bill that would last only a year or two.

The House Agriculture Committee is considering holding a series of field hearings on the 2012 farm bill beginning as soon as March 9.

According to a list being circulated among House aides, the committee is planning to hold hearings on the following dates, although the cities could change:

• March 9 — Saranac Lake, N.Y.

• March 23 — Galesburg, Ill.

• March 30 — State University, Ark.

• April 20 — Dodge City, Kan.