Stabenow tells Biden: House ag budget cuts are a non-starter in Senate

By Sara Wyant

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WASHINGTON, DC, June 15 - As Vice President Joe Biden picks up the pace with congressional leaders this week on budget negotiations, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow wants to make one thing perfectly clear: The Senate will not support the House-passed budget cuts for agriculture and nutrition. Earlier this year, the House of Representatives approved a $178 billion cut in farm bill spending over 10 years.

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The Michigan Democrat met with Biden on Tuesday and expressed her concerns about how agriculture and Rural America are being treated as part of the budget talks.

“I don't know the exact number. I know it will be, unfortunately, significant,” she told Agri-Pulse.

Stabenow said House action to cut agriculture in the budget resolution and the ongoing appropriations process, which she described as “extreme” is essentially defining expectations with White House and congressional budget negotiators.

“So I'm having to make it very clear that in the Senate we do not support what the House did. They should not just accept those levels as a place of compromise,” she emphasized.

Stabenow said that she plans to continue wth a “pretty aggressive” farm bill hearing schedule as long as the Senate remains in session this summer and then through rest of the year.

“My goal is to be able to be able to move through each major area and hear from people involved in every part of agriculture: Conservation, energy, rural development, farm credit, crop insurance and so on. And then go into the next year and look at what areas we want to focus on, how we begin to to work as a committee on drafting the bill, she added.

“This is really the year for informaiton gathering. We want to get all of the issues on the table. Then look at what kind of a budget we have to deal wit, which remains our biggest area of concern.”

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