A second jobs bill now moving through the Senate contains an agriculture disaster package that was stripped from an earlier bill.
Introduced by Montana Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the legislation is expected to be put on a fast track.
While legislators are still jockeying to shape the legislation, Tara Smith, who works congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation, tells Southeast Farm Press that early reports are favorable for the agriculture package. Among Smith’s comments:
• Please bring us up to speed on the new manner Congress is using to get the agriculture disaster package through…
“A second jobs bill with tax extenders will be the mechanism for moving it forward. The ag disaster language is included in that bill.”
•The amount is still at $1.5 billion?
“Correct. My understanding is they’re still looking to make some tweaks to it. But, basically, the language that was in the (Baucus/Grassley) jobs bill is what’s in this one.”
• On the breakdown of funding requests…
“Supplemental direct payments are at $1.1 billion.
“Cottonseed assistance is at $42 million.
“Aquaculture is at $25 million.
“The Hawaiian sugar cooperative deal is at $21 million.
“Poultry loans are at $75 million.
“Livestock losses are at $50 million.
“Specialty crops are at $150 million.”
• Any indication on how fast this could move through Congress?
“The hope is it will move relatively quickly and it’ll be done before Easter recess. There are a lot of pieces in play, right now. We’re hopeful it’ll move through the Senate pretty quickly and then, of course, it’ll be dealt with by the House before an agreement is made.
“Hopefully that can all be done by Easter but it’s probably too early to tell.”
• Anything else?
“Again, what’s included in this bill for disaster assistance may not be what’s in the final package. There could be changes before everything is said and done.”