Economy
5:14 pm
Mon July 15, 2013

Stabenow likens efforts to pass new farm bill to comedy ‘Groundhog Day’

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., says she’ll take whatever version of the farm bill she can get from the Republican-led U.S. House. The chair of the Senate’s Agriculture Committee says time is running short to get something signed into law.

Stabenow has been working for a few years to pass a new version of the massive farm bill.

“This feels like Groundhog Day the movie to me; every time I get up we do the farm bill again,” Stabenow said during a conference call with reporters Monday.

The Senate’s version cuts subsidies to some farmers and makes some cuts to the food stamp program. But the House’s version passed last week doesn’t include the food stamp program at all.

She says separating the food stamp program from the farm bill means the bill “wouldn’t get done” at all.  

“It would be a very short-term approach that would end the coalition between urban and rural communities that has allowed us to have an agriculture and food policy for the country that is broadly supported,” Stabenow said.

She also stressed that the food stamp provision supports more than just food stamps alone.

“It’s food banks. It’s job training for people who are getting food help. It’s nutrition education so that families are able to make wiser decisions with very limited money so that their children are getting nutritious meals and we can tackle long term health costs and childhood obesity,” Stabenow said.

Stabenow says a conference committee of legislators from both the house and senate could resolve the differences, but so far Republican leadership in the House hasn’t taken steps to create that committee; a move that’s left Stabenow “stunned.” Some conservatives worry about what the farm bill would look like coming out of any conference committee.

This year, Stabenow says she is not willing to just extend the farm bill that’s already in place. It expires in September.