On Aug. 21, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow held a discussion on the new Farm Bill at the Michigan State University Extension Kent County office in Grand Rapids. This was the last of five sessions she held around the state. A number of MSUE colleagues have attended these, including the one that MSUE hosted this week. Because we hosted the Grand Rapids meeting, Betty Blase, district coordinator for MSUE District 7, provided the introduction of Sen. Stabenow. About 70 local agricultural producers and agribusiness leaders attended the meeting in Grand Rapids.
The Farm Bill comes up for renewal every five years and among its elements is the authorization for federal funding of Cooperative Extension and Agricultural Experiment Station partnerships with land-grant universities. It also sets broad policy direction for the nation on food, food production, food safety, food security, rural development, conservation, development and production of bio-energy and bio-materials, and risk management for agricultural production. The current Farm Bill expires on Sept. 30, 2012. The U.S. Senate has approved a revision of the Farm Bill and is waiting on the House of Representatives to approve their version so the two chambers can reach compromises on the language through the conference committee process. The House Agriculture Committee approved a revision of the Farm Bill, but House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio has not allowed it to come to a vote on the floor of the House.
You can find more about the revision of the Farm Bill that passed the Senate at http://www.ag.senate.gov/issues/farm-bill.