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Published January 24, 2013, 05:57 PM

Top priority bill

Stabenow committed to convening a mark up to produce updated farm bill.

By: Jerry Hagstrom, Agweek

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Jan. 22 introduced last year’s Senate-passed version of the farm bill as one of several “privileged, top priority bills” while House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., pledged to work with House Agriculture ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., to try to finish the bill that Congress did not finish last year.

“I applaud Sen. Reid’s leadership and commitment to getting a five-year farm bill done to provide certainty to the 16 million Americans working in agriculture,” Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said in a statement.

“Last year, we were able to pass a farm bill with overwhelming bipartisan support, saving more than $23 billion in taxpayer money and reforming farm bill programs to be more cost-effective and market-oriented,” Stabenow said. “Unfortunately, the House didn’t bring the farm bill to the floor. Majority Leader Reid has demonstrated that the Senate will once again make supporting our nation’s agriculture economy while cutting spending a top priority.”

Stabenow’s office said she is committed to convening a mark up as soon as possible to produce an updated version of the farm bill, which could then be substituted for Reid’s placeholder bill.

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson commended Reid and Stabenow, and urged House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to take action.

“This is a positive way to begin the year and Congressional session. NFU applauds Senate leadership for its commitment to U.S. agriculture,” Johnson said. “Farmers and ranchers are in need of certainty through a five-year farm bill and we will continue to work with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to garner their support for a bill as soon as possible.

“NFU urges Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner to make the same commitment to rural America so that we do not prolong this process much longer.”

Meanwhile, on Jan. 23 the House Agriculture Committee held its organizational session for the 113th Congress. The committee approved rules to maintain the enhanced transparency and accountability standards that were used in the last Congress under House Republican leadership. This includes posting the text of bills online for the public no less than 24 hours before a business meeting and providing both live and archived webcasts of all hearings and business meetings.