Senate Farm Bill Debate Rolls on with Two Approved Amendments (via Agri-Pulse)

The Senate resumed consideration in earnest today of its five-year farm bill (S. 954) with passage of two non-controversial amendments.

More action is expected on amendments Tuesday, and Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., reiterated her intent to complete the bill by the end of the week. That may be wishful thinking considering the week will be shortened by memorial services on Wednesday for former Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.

The Senate approved an amendment late Monday, with a 72-18 vote, offered by Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., which would require the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) to carry out research and development regarding a crop insurance program for alfalfa.

Before the vote, Moran said there is a “real challenge” in getting crop insurance for alfalfa.

“And what we know about this crop, it is so important, used in many ways to feed cattle and produce milk by in dairy cattle, and so it’s a very important component in the livestock industry and valuable for feed for both cattle for meat consumption and cattle for dairy consumption,” Moran said.

Moran said his amendment would require FCIC to provide a report to Congress on the research into a program, and noted there would not be a cost to taxpayers.

Also, before the vote, Stabenow said the amendment “really follows the philosophy of this farm bill of moving from direct subsidies to crop insurance, and I think it’s an important crop and it’s important to make sure that we do have crop insurance tailored to alfalfa growers.”

Further, the Senate approved, by voice vote, an amendment, offered by Sen. Christopher Coons, D-Del., which seeks to modify a provision relating to funding of local and regional food aid procurement projects. The amendment would increase the authorization for the program from $40 million to $60 million annually.

The bipartisan amendment aims to enhance a pilot program authorized in the 2008 farm bill to test projects that could expedite the provision of food aid to populations suffering from hunger, with the provision of food sourced in the communities and regions closest to them.

For more news, please visit www.agri-pulse.com

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