Produce industry advocates monitor farm bill leadership talks

11/02/2011 11:37:00 AM
Tom Karst

Ken Barbic, director for federal government affairs for the Washington, D.C., office for Irvine, Calif.-based Western Growers, said the leadership of the agriculture committees was spending much of their time discussing Title I programs for corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton.

“From what I’ve heard they are still far apart on Title I commodity programs and that is the sticking point right now,” he said Nov. 1.

Still, Barbic said many expect the agriculture committee leadership to unveil their recommendations by Nov. 4.

Barbic said some nutrition programs and perhaps other programs of importance to the specialty crop industry may be looked at for cuts. The three farm bill titles that the agriculture committee leadership is looking to slice include the commodity title, conservation programs and nutrition assistance.

If and when the agriculture committee leadership comes forward with recommendations, Barbic said that it is unknown if the super committee will embrace them all as recommended.

“There are so many steps to this process; no one has been through it before,” he said.

The super committee may be more likely to accept the recommendations, however. since Barbic said the agriculture committee leaders are the only group that has pledged to produce bicameral, bipartisan recommendations for budget cuts to the super committee.

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is charged with issuing a formal recommendation on how to reduce the deficit by at least $1.5 trillion over the next ten years. Composed of three members of each party from the Senate and three members of each party from the House, the committee’s bipartisan recommendations will receive an up-or-down vote in Congress before Dec. 23 this year.

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