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Negotiating over premium cut

DANIEL LOOKER Updated: 06/21/2012 @ 8:07am Business Editor

In her press conference earlier today, Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) indicated that Senator John Thune (R-SD) and Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) are negotiating changes to amendments that would lower crop insurance premium subsidies.

Thune's crop insurance amendment appears to do the same thing as one offered by Coburn and Durbin. Both would cut premium subsidies by 15 percentage points for farmers with adjusted gross income over $750,000.

But the Thune amendment adds the requirement that USDA study the effects of that change before the cut in premiums takes place. Groups who favor the lower premiums for high income farms say the study is a poison pill that would effectively kill any savings in federal spending advocated by Coburn and Durbin.

According to Ferd Hoefner of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, "The Thune [proposal] is a poison pill that would gut the amendment.  The Durbin-Coburn amendment includes the Thune study but amends the poison pill language to make it acceptable.  That was still not acceptable to Thune and they continue to negotiate.  If they reach a deal we will support it, but if not, we are urging people to defeat Thune and pass Durbin-Coburn.  Either way, if something passes it will result in a delay in implementation.  With Thune, it would be a forever delay.  With a deal, or with Durbin-Coburn as it stands now, it would be a one year delay while RMA [USDA's Risk Management Agency]  does the study."

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