The Senate is poised to vote on the Farm Bill at 4:30 p.m. central time Monday, even as some 200 amendments remain untouched.
One pending amendment will be addressed before the final vote, no. 998 from Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., regarding internet projects in rural areas.
The Senate comes to a vote after the cloture vote last week. More than 100 ag groups signed onto a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on June 5, asking for cloture. Groups included the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Corn Growers Association and several farm credit organizations.
Mary Kay Thatcher, AFBF Farm Program Specialist, said in a Farm Bureau interview last week that the vote to invoke cloture was "a great victory."
Thatcher says despite the House's inability to get their bill passed last year, the movements this year on the bill are very important.
"We are still a year late in completing the farm bill," Thatcher says, but the Senate vote will "give a shove to the House that they're the remaining entity to get this done."
The Senate's bill looks relatively similar to last year's bill – except for the addition of target price-based program which was supported by southern growers and the focus of a squabble between lawmakers in mark-up.
Another ongoing concern among many is the size of the crop insurance program and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, even though amendments to change the size of each were offered; the amendment to limit crop insurance subsidy premiums for farmers exceeding $750,000 in adjusted gross income was passed, while the amendment to return the more than $4 billion in SNAP cuts was denied.
Other amendments added to the bill on the Senate floor were few, though some were discussed at length. Sugar policy, crop insurance for tobacco growers and GMO labeling all got a good look, though no approval materialized. For full recaps, check out Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, and Day 5.
Overall, AFBF's Thatcher, along with a host of other farm group representatives, are set on moving through the rest of the legislative process and getting the full bill to the President's desk.
"Hopefully we can tie this up with a pretty ribbon by Monday night and then presumably in about two weeks, three weeks at the most I suspect, we will have discussion about the bill on the House floor," Thatcher said.
She estimates that at least 300 amendments will be on the docket, setting the House Farm Bill up for a big debate.
"That will be a very interesting discussion looking for pretty much an open process over there," Thatcher said.