Here's the latest on the status of the Farm Bill, nominations for two top positions at the Department of Agriculture and more.
Farm Bill Update
The Senate voted to send their version (S. 954
) of the Farm Bill to conference last week. As previously reported, the House’s bill (H.R. 2462
) does not include the much debated nutrition title. Chairman Lucas (R-OK) now maintains that if the House hasn’t passed a companion nutrition bill by next week, they will go to conference using the Senate bill. While this period of limbo doesn’t provide a great deal of clarity, one thing is certain: unless both chambers get a bill to conference, there will be NO 2013 Farm Bill and NO funding for conservation programs…period. It is imperative that we get a five-year bill passed before the September 30 extension expires! Please look for more information next week regarding next steps.
Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) also just announced this morning the seven Democratic Senators for the conference committee: herself, Pat Leahy (VT), Harkin (IA), Baucus (MT), Brown (OH), Klobuchar (MN), and Bennet (CO). The Senate Republicans have not yet selected their conferees.
Two important nominations for positions at USDA were advanced this week that have the potential to impact the future of the funding and delivery of our conservation priorities. The Senate Ag Committee approved by voice vote Krysta Harden as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture (the #2 position) and Robert Bonnie as the Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment. Next, their nominations will be voted on by the full Senate.
The Alliance supports both nominees and sent letters to the Committee advocating for their confirmation. Krysta’s background in agriculture and many years spent interacting with lawmakers and advocacy groups on behalf of agricultural interests has helped shape her focus on achieving USDA goals through broad support and cooperation. Supporting her nomination
was a logical choice in forwarding our ongoing partnership with USDA. Robert, a longtime friend
of the Alliance and the conservation community, brings a wealth of experience that will translate into innovative approaches to conserve America’s farms, ranches and forest lands. He will replace another valued conservation advocate, Harris Sherman, who retired in April. We thank Mr. Sherman for his many years of service and support of the Alliance’s work and vision.
After Dave White
, former Chief of the NRCS, retired this past winter we consoled ourselves by bringing him on board as an advisor for our Farm Bill outreach to USDA and Capitol Hill. Dave will be also be joining us at Rally
to discuss the Farm Bill rulemaking process, offering you a chance to interact with him in person. Filling his considerable shoes is Acting Director, Jason Weller, who has proven time and time again his knowledge and on-the-ground understanding of the conservation initiatives he oversees, including the easement programs. The Alliance also gave him an appreciative nod
as he awaits word of pending approval.
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