The 2012 Farm Bill was reported out of the Senate Agriculture Committee on April 26 by a 16-5 vote. The proposed bill would save $23 billion over 10 years and reforms agriculture policy by consolidating nearly 100 programs, combining four commodity programs into one. The legislation is expected to be considered on the Senate floor this month. The House Agriculture Committee is also working on the farm bill and holding a series of hearings both in the field and Washington, D.C. The Committee expects that the mark-up will be completed upon conclusion of the hearings on May 18.
The Senate Appropriations Committee reported out FY 2013 Agriculture Appropriations on April 26 by a 28-1 vote. Included in the legislation is $825,000 for Supplemental and Alternative Crops, a competitive research grant program administered by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture that funds canola research.
Congressional members from North Dakota met with state agricultural leaders in April to discuss farm bill legislation. The bipartisan plan combines several current programs into one that’s simpler and more effective, according to the North Dakota leaders. State farmers emphasized that crop insurance needs to be the top priority. Senators John Hoeven and Kent Conrad ensured producers that their provision will make crop insurance better by offering a supplemental coverage option and reducing the nation’s deficit by $23 billion in the next 10 years. The main challenge, they said, will be getting farmers in the south on board with the plan.
On April 26, the U.S. Labor Department announced the complete withdrawal of the proposed rule on child labor in agriculture, including a possible narrowing of the parental exemption for children working on family farms. Instead, the Departments of Labor and Agriculture plan to partner with farm organizations, Future Farmers of America and 4-H groups to develop an educational program to help reduce farm accidents involving youth.