Agriculture appropriations will be considered by the Senate when it opens for business Dec. 5, under a previous agreement, the FY07 Agriculture Appropriations bill is the pending business. There is an agreement to allow Sen. Conrad (D-N.D.) to offer an amendment related to disaster assistance.

Although Conrad’s amendment has not been filed officially and can be modified, it reportedly would modify the existing provision of the appropriations bill. The current appropriations bill offers disaster assistance for 2005 and a supplemental direct payment. Conrad’s amendment reportedly would provide disaster assistance for yield and qualty losses associated with 2005 and 2006 crops and provide feed assistance and other measures but contains no supplemental direct payment.

If Conrad offers the amendment, Sen. Gregg (R-N.H.), chairman of the Budget Committee, has indicated he will object to its consideration because it exceeds the budget. If Gregg offers the “budget point of order,” 60 votes are required to waive the budget before the amendment can be adopted.

Sen. Lincoln (D-Ark.) and several of her colleagues have expressed concern regarding the lack of a supplemental direct payment in Conrad’s amendment. The supplemental direct payment, included in the appropriations measure, is important to farmers who do not meet the 35 percent yield loss required to qualify for assistance but nonetheless have significant financial losses due to the combination of skyrocketing input costs, yield losses and depressed prices.

Discussions between Lincoln and Conrad and others likely will continue until the Senate resumes work Dec. 5.

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