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Recap and Reaction to Senate GOP Farm Bill Framework Release

On Tuesday Senator John Boozman (R-AR), ranking member of the Senate Ag Committee, unveiled the Senate Republican-drafted framework answering the call for a “farmer-focused” farm bill.

“From the onset of this process, we have sought to draft a farm bill that reflects the needs of stakeholders,” Boozman says. “The world has changed dramatically since the 2018 bill became law, and the unprecedented challenges and economic uncertainty that farmers now face are only projected to get worse in the coming years.” He also says that’s why farmers have been calling on senators to put more farm in the farm bill.

The Senate Republican Committee members say the framework modernizes the safety net, facilitating the expansion of access to overseas markets, fosters breakthroughs in agricultural research, and grows the rural communities that farmers, ranchers, and foresters call home. They also say it does all that while making historic investments in conservation and protecting nutrition programs.

Several key agricultural groups and stakeholders issued responses to the Senate Ag Committee Republicans’ farm bill framework. Gregg Doud, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, calls it a strong framework that marks another important step in enacting a farm bill.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association also reacted positively to the framework, noting that it’s a farm bill framework that cattle producers can proudly support. National Sorghum Producers Chair Craig Meeker says his group calls it a forward-thinking farm bill, and it’s put together to meet the ever-evolving needs of America’s hardworking farmers and ranchers.

Democratic reaction to the Republican framework was less supportive. “By copying the approach taken by House Ag Committee Republicans, the Senate Ag minority has chosen to ignore Democratic warnings by putting forth policies, especially on nutrition, that the Democrats cannot and will not accept,” says House Ag Committee Ranking Member David Scott (D-GA).

Joby Young, the executive vice president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, talks about key provisions outlined in both the proposal from Ranking Member Boozman and the previously released proposal from Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman, Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). Young says; “What we’re seeing in the proposals that are coming out from all of our leaders on the Ag Committee that’s important to us at Farm Bureau and certainly across the ag world, is the broad recognition that the Ag provisions of the farm bill do need some updates, like looking at our ag programs and updating pieces of that to meet the economic changes we’ve seen over the last few years. The value of crop insurance and finding ways to improve and expand crop insurance are some of the commonalities.”

Boozman and Stabenow’s overviews do have key differences, though according to Young. He says, “Some key differences that are going to define the debate going forward are primarily in places like the nutrition title and what the proposals are – policy proposals – that different leaders have. Another piece is what the conservation programs look like going forward. They’ve made a lot of progress in the last few months, moving closer together on conservation, but there’s still a little bit of pencil sharpening left to go to have some final agreement on that piece.”

Young says the proposals are an important step, but more progress needs to be made. He says, “Well, what we’re hoping for is now that Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Boozman both have proposals out there that are summaries, that we’ll see bill text, and we’ll see a markup scheduled, and they’ll take what they put here in sort of outline format and memorialize it and formalize it into bill text, so they can go and have a hearing, and have a markup, and pass the farm bill on the Senate side.”

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