By Johnny Kampis | Missouri Watchdog
ST. LOUIS — The 2012 Farm Bill keeps growing because of additions by various members of Congress, which worries a Missouri senator about the chances of passing the bloated legislation.
“If we have to vote on all 200 amendments, I think it is unlikely we will get it finished,” U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said during a Tuesday afternoon conference call.
Officially known as the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012, the nearly $1 trillion bill would set the country’s food and family policy. Provisions in the wide-ranging legislation would help promote agricultural exports, help farmers comply with environmental regulations and promote the protection of endangered species in America’s forests.
McCaskill was promoting her own amendment to the bill, which would require by law a farm policy advisory position at the Environmental Protection Agency. The position exists, but is not codified.
Other amendments appear more in line with political posturing than with farming, such as an amendment that calls for defense budget cuts and another that would end aid to Pakistan.
Although the bill has a budget of nearly $1 trillion, the plan calls for $23 billion in cuts on current spending. It would cut direct payment programs for farmers and prevent wealthy farmers from getting government subsidies.
The bill would also expand crop insurance for many farmers, especially small agriculturists with proceeds of less than $50,000 annually. Missouri Watchdog reported last week that farmers receiving such subsidies are anonymous under federal law, and some are getting more than $1 million in crop insurance a year.
The bill hopes to curb large payments to the biggest farms.
The measure got initial approval in the Senate, 90-8, Thursday, which sends it to the floor for debate. Leaders will hash out what amendments remain attached to the legislation before the final vote. The House has yet to take up the issue.