By Troy Krause
By the August recess, the 2012 federal farm bill should be in place. That was the message Seventh Congressional District Congressman Collin Peterson shared with a group of farmers and ag business leaders this past Friday afternoon.
The presentation in Olivia was one of several meetings Peterson conducted throughout the seventh district to provide an update on the farm bill and the changes which are in store.
Peterson said the Senate ag committee has already finished its proposed ag bill, and he anticipates it could be on the Senate floor next week.
While the Senate is set to begin its floor debate, the House version of the farm bill is still at the committee level, and Peterson said starting June 18 the House ag committee is going to begin mark-up of the bill. Yet, he added, because of the bi-partisan mood of the House committee he anticipates that work is not going to take very long to complete.
Peterson said there have not been many disagreements among the Democratic and Republican members of the committee, which he said is getting to be rare in Washington, D.C. these days.
"I hope we can have the bill on the House floor by the end of June or the first part of July," said Peterson.
While getting it to the floor might be easy, once the debate begins passage of the farm bill is not going to be easy, said Peterson, as he anticipates a number of amendments being proposed during that debate.
Every organization, said Peterson, has expressed the importance of getting the farm bill done, adding there is nothing to gain by delaying it.
Peterson said the majority of what he thinks is going to be in the final farm bill is similar to what is in the current farm bill, but there are some major changes, as well.
One of those changes Peterson said he believes is going to be made is the elimination of what are known as direct payments.
The elimination of that program, which paid producers a set amount per acre regardless of how much comes off of that acre of land and how much income is made. What most call a farm subsidy, the direct payment concept has been in place for decades, but Peterson said he thinks now is the time when that is going to end.
Rather than using direct payments as a support for production of commodities, such as corn and soybeans, the proposal Peterson believes the House is going to offer would provide two options -- giving producers a choice between what are known as target price payments or revenue protection.