Moultrie Observer

Local News

March 13, 2012

Scott says Senate Democrats set impossible mandates for Farm Bill

MOULTRIE — In a speech that focused primarily on budgetary issues, U.S. Rep. Austin Scott raised concerns for the future of the Farm Bill.

Speaking to the Moultrie Rotary Club on Tuesday, Scott, R-Tifton, said limitations placed by Senate Democrats have made passage of a farm bill almost impossible.

Congress passes a new Farm Bill about every five years, outlining agricultural and food policy for the law’s duration. It deals not only with farming but with all policy governed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which includes commodity programs, rural development, nutrition programs and more. A new bill is being developed for potential passage this year.

Scott said about 80 percent of money in the Farm Bill funds nutrition programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, while about 20 percent goes to benefit agricultural producers.

He said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, a Democrat from Grand Rapids, Mich., has let it be known that she will kill a Farm Bill from the House of Representatives that doesn’t meet certain criteria.

Some $23 billion in cuts have been proposed for the Farm Bill as compared to the 2008 version, Scott said. However, he said, Stabenow is requiring no more than $4 billion of the decrease to come from nutrition programs. The remaining $19 billion would have to come from the much smaller share of the funding — that going to support agricultural producers.

Answering questions after his speech, Scott said he did not believe the House is able to pass a farm bill that meets Stabenow’s mandate.

“Nobody gets everything they want (in a bill),” he said.

In other Farm Bill news, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Moultrie, will hold two public meetings on the Farm Bill.

One will be 9 a.m. Friday, March 16, at Altamaha Technical College in Jesup; featured will be Zippy Duvall of the Georgia Farm Bureau, Charles Hall of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, Robert Redding of the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation, and John Maguire of the National Cotton Council.

The second will be 2 p.m. the same day at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center in Tifton. The panel will include Hall, Redding and Maguire, as well as Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black.

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