Any differences among lawmakers based on the region they represent?

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Committee, “was very careful and wanted to make sure this is the direction for (Southern) farmers.

“Jeremy Jack, president of the Mississippi Soybean Association, and Tim Clements, the vice president, are both rice growers, as well. We explained the program to Sen. Cochran and he asked (Jack) if Mississippi growers would support it. Both (Jack and Clement) said absolutely, it is a program they believe will work for them.

“That doesn’t mean there isn’t work to do. We must bring rice on board, corn on board, wheat, peanuts and others.

“And whether this is the exact program that will be the final one, or not, we hope it’s a first step to bring everyone to the table. We must talk about this and figure out where we go from here.”

The message from Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, “was that she’s been able to hold the line on deficit reduction. She intends to maintain the savings of $23 billion out of the agriculture budget.

“Here’s the thing, though: that’s for this year. If agriculture doesn’t unite and we don’t get a farm bill in 2013, it’s likely all the direct payments will go to deficit reduction and there will be very little money to write a farm bill in 2014. Again, we must unite, find a common message and ask Congress to write a farm bill that works for all of agriculture.”

ASA leaders also met with House agriculture staff and Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee. “Some on the House side still want programs tied to planted acres. That means we’ve got negotiations and convincing left to do.”

Were you told by lawmakers when they expect to take the farm bill up in earnest?

 

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“It appears they’re still waiting for firm budget numbers so they’ll know what’s available to spend. Plus, Easter holidays aren’t far off.

“So, it’s looking like the earliest will be mid-April before one of the agriculture committees might begin marking up bills.”

Murphy and colleagues have already begun outreach to other commodity groups.

“We’re actually talking to some corn and wheat leaders later today. We’ll reach out to the rice, peanuts, cotton over the next few weeks to explain our approach and see where we can go. We just have to deliver a cohesive message.”

 

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