by Jerry Hagstrom, DTN Political Correspondent
CANNES, France (DTN) — The chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate agriculture committees are close to finalizing a farm bill proposal to send to the super committee in charge of deficit reduction and could release it today.
Meanwhile, a coalition of 27 House members led by Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., a key critic of the 2008 farm bill, has sent the super committee leaders a letter urging them not to consider the proposal.
House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., told reporters on Thursday that there is pressure to finish the proposal by Friday. The House is scheduled to take next week off from legislating.
Spokeswomen for Peterson, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., confirmed Thursday they had held caucuses with their members on the agriculture committees.
A Senate Democratic aide said late Thursday that the deal was not yet “confirmable,” but that members were “very close to finalizing a deal, maybe tonight, tomorrow for sure.”
The four ag committee leaders — Lucas, Peterson, Roberts, and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. — have already written the 12-member super committee that they would agree to a $23 billion cut in agriculture programs over 10 years as part of the effort to cut the federal deficit. But they also told the super committee that such a cut would necessitate rewriting farm programs and that they would send them a detailed proposal by Nov. 1, a deadline they have missed.
The bill is expected to rewrite the aid to commodity crop producers, but the rest of the bill is unclear.
The 27 House members wrote Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the co-chairmen of the super committee, to urge them not to consider the proposal developed by the ag committee leaders.
“We urge the Joint Select Committee to resist proposals that would go beyond its mandate of deficit reduction and authorize new, complicated agriculture programs that have not been the subject of congressional review,” the members wrote.
“The Joint Select Committee should instead act to find efficiencies within existing programs,” the letter said. “If the agricultural committees believe that these cuts will require a fundamental redesign of agricultural programs, those committees can and should move legislation through regular order.”
Kind was the key critic of the 2008 farm bill, and many of the members who signed the letter, such as Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., had joined him in that effort.
Kind’s office and Oxfam America sent out the news release simultaneously. The news release from Kind also contained endorsements from the Environmental Working Group, the National Taxpayers Union and Oxfam America.
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