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Grassley: Farm bill needed soon

DANIEL LOOKER 02/07/2012 @ 2:01pm Business Editor

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), a veteran member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, said Tuesday that he’s pleased the Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee has announced a series of hearings on the 2012 Farm Bill.

Last week Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) announced plans to hold four committee hearings on the 2012 Farm Bill. The first will be next Wednesday, February 15, on energy and rural economic growth. The committee reviews conservation policy on February 29, local food production and nutrition March 14 and risk management and commodities on March 21.

“I think we can’t move too fast on the farm bill because in an election year, it’s difficult to get things done,” said Grassley.

“These may be the only four hearings the committee will hold prior to marking up an actual farm bill,” said Grassley. “If we don’t’ get a farm bill done by June, there won’t be a farm bill, and that’s why I’m very pleased Chairwoman Stabenow is speeding up these hearings.”

His own priorities in the commodity title of the farm bill will be maintaining a strong crop insurance program and having limits on commodity program payments, he said.

Getting a farm bill written this year is also a top priority of 12 groups that met in Washington last week ­– the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Farmers Union and 10 major commodity groups. The groups pledged to work together on a viable farm policy.

"Also confirmed is our common belief that Congress should pass and the President should sign a strong new farm bill into law this year.  The law expires at the end of this year and producers – like all job creators – need certainty from Washington,” the group said in a statement released by the National Association of Wheat Growers.

Recently Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), the former head of the ag committee, said that he thought the committee’s work on crafting a farm bill last fall for a congressional deficit cutting committee gives the process a head start.

“I would hope we would be able to come up with something in the May, June, July time frame,” Harkin said.

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