House Agriculture Committee Chairman Rep. Frank Lucas announced a series of field hearings on the 2012 Farm Bill, scheduled in March and April. Hearings are slated for New York, Illinois, Arkansas and Kansas.
The Senate Agriculture Committee moved two hearings earlier than originally scheduled. A hearing on nutrition, originally set for March 14, was moved to March 7; and a hearing on risk management and commodity programs, initially scheduled for March 21, will move up to March 14.
With two hearings on energy and conservation already completed, the changes indicate Sen. Debbie Stabenow's attempt to get a Farm Bill ready for committee mark-up by the end of March. Moving the hearings up a week will give the committee time to negotiate policies after the four hearings are complete. Stabenow has said she wants to write a new five-year Farm Bill rather than extend the current bill or draft a slightly altered bill that would last only a year or two.
According to Lucas, the House field hearings are the next step in the 2012 Farm Bill development. Previously, the House Ag Committee held 11 audit hearings on agriculture programs to look for ways to improve programs for farmers, increase efficiency and reduce spending. The information gained from the audits combined with perspectives from the field will serve as a useful reference for committee members.
Reprinted in part from Wisconsin Ag Connection