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Farm Bill Audio Excerpts- Senate Floor Debate, Interviews & Summaries

The following is a chronological archive of selected audio segments from the 2007 Farm Bill debate. The clips include excerpts from Senate floor debate, as well audio interviews conducted by FarmPolicy.com.

Farm Bill Negotiations Moving Slowly (March 18, 2008)

To listen to an audio recap (MP3) of some of the recent Farm Bill developments, see this FarmPolicy.com audio podcast from March 18, 2008 (MP3- 8:18).

The FarmPolicy.com audio segment includes comments made by Secretary of Agriculture Schafer at today’s USDA press briefing, a clip from Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) regarding funding made in a press conference today, and a short clip from Monday’s AgriTalk program which includes analysis from Mary Kay Thatcher of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Farm Bill: Direct Payments and Funding (February 27, 2008)

On February 27, DTN writer Chris Clayton reported that, “Policymakers and groups that have sought to reshape farm policy are again calling on Congress to reconsider tax changes to fund the farm bill while also paying direct payments to producers during these times of soaring commodity prices.”

Mr. Clayton explained that, “Most farm groups have defended direct payments as a safety net that would be there if hard times return. Others have noted that the payments, which are not tied to actual production, are compliant with World Trade Organization rules. The American Farm Bureau backs keeping direct payments, and the National Association of Wheat Growers wanted an increase in direct payments because, in many cases, direct payments were the only safety net for wheat producers over the past farm bill.”

The February 27 DTN item noted that, “[U.S. Rep. Ron Kind D-Wisconsin] and cohort Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., have sent a 10-point plan to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other congressmen proposing to rollback any potential changes in target prices or loan rates, as well as reduce direct payments and establish tighter criteria for farmers to receive commodity payments. Given the current commodity markets, the Kind-Flake proposal particularly targets direct payments, which pay $5.2 billion annually to producers and are not tied to market conditions.”

For more perspective, see this FarmPolicy.com audio podcast from February 27 (MP3- 6:00) which features audio clips from Rep. Kind, Rep. Flake, President of the Grocery Manufacturers Association and former U.S. Rep. Cal Dooley, and Ken Cook. The FarmPolicy.com audio podcast lasts six minutes and is available here (MP3).

Crop Insurance: Senate Floor Excerpts (December 13, 2007)

Debate and votes on amendments to the Farm Bill continued in earnest on the Senate floor today.

Of particular interest was an amendment by Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) regarding crop insurance.

The Brown Amendment would have increased funding for some farm programs by making changes to some elements of the crop insurance program.

The amendment ultimately failed on a vote of 32-63; but nonetheless, crop insurance profits, which have been extremely high lately, remain an interesting issue.

This audio file (MP3- about 12 minutes) contains audio excerpts from the debate on the crop insurance amendment- Senators that are featured include Sherrod Brown, Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa).

Grassley-Dorgan Amendment: Audio Excerpts (December 12, 2007)

The Grassley-Dorgan Amendment regarding payment limits was debated on the Senate floor today.

This audio podcast (MP3- about 13 minutes) includes excerpts from the debate.

Four Senators are highlighted, and speak in the following order: Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) and Byron Dorgan (D-ND).

To listen to the audio highlights, just click here (MP3- about 13 minutes).

Chairman Peterson on the Farm Bill (December 12, 2007)

On Monday, House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson spoke in Washington, D.C. to the Farm Journal Forum.

Chairman Peterson addressed issues regarding the Farm Bill and took questions from the audience.

This audio file (MP3- approximately nine minutes), contains two extended excerpts from Chairman Peterson’s remarks on Monday- in the first, he highlights key factors that lead to the House passing a version of the Farm Bill last summer.

In the second excerpt, Chairman Peterson spoke more specifically about working out differences between the House Bill and eventual Senate version of the Farm Bill and noted that financing is a key concern.

To listen to Chairman Peterson’s remarks in the entirety, including the questions that followed the speech, just click here (MP3- about 40 minutes).

FRESH Act: Senate Floor Audio Excerpts (December 11, 2007)

Debate and votes on amendments to the Farm Bill took place on the Senate floor today- of particular interest was the so-called FRESH Amendment sponsored by Sens. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.).

This amendment represented a reform alternative to the Ag Committee passed version of the Farm Bill.

However, the FRESH amendment was ultimately defeated by a vote of 37-58.

Prior to the vote, Sen. Lugar made arguments on the floor for why the amendment should pass –he discussed farm payment distribution issues, as well as concerns regarding trade compliance.

Later, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) offered counter-arguments to the FRESH act, and also highlighted farm payment distribution levels and focused on the USDA definition of a “farm.”

To listen to these audio experts from the Farm Bill debate today, just click here (MP3- about 15 minutes).

Farm Bill Amendment: Biofuels- Audio Excerpts from the Senate Farm Bill Debate (December 10, 2007)

Amendments to the Farm Bill continued to be offered on the Senate floor today- one of the more interesting amendments was submitted by Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), the Ranking Member on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee.

The Domenici amendment relates to biofuels and is somewhat overlapping in nature with some provisions in related energy legislation.

Sen. Domenici explained the technical aspects of his amendment, as well as his rationale for bringing up in the Farm Bill debate on the Senate floor today.

Today’s podcast also includes comments from Sen. John Thune (R-SD), who noted the impact biofuels production has had on the market price of some program crops, and that price-triggered federal farm outlays have been reduced under the 2002 Farm Bill as a result.

To listen to today’s podcast, just click here (MP3- about nine minutes).

Payment Limits – Income Limits: Audio Excerpts from the Senate Floor (December 9, 2007)

On Friday, debate regarding the Farm Bill took place on the Senate floor.

Although no votes were taken on amendments, some amendments were nonetheless discussed.

In particular, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia) discussed issues associated with farm program payment limits and income limits regarding farm payments.

Details of Sen. Klobuchar’s amendment were also explained.

To listen to these excerpts from Friday, just click here (MP3- about 17 minutes).

A FarmPolicy.com Interview with U.S. Representative Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) (November 18, 2007)

On Friday afternoon (Nov. 16), I had the chance to speak with U.S. Representative Adrian Smith of Nebraska (R) about a variety of farm policy issues.

We discussed Farm Bill extension activity in the House, aspects of reform in the House version of the Farm Bill, WTO issues, biofuels, and the change in leadership at USDA.

Congressman Smith was one of just 13 freshman Republicans to be sworn into office in 2007. He now sits on the House Agriculture Committee, as well as the House Budget Committee.

Congressman Smith represents Nebraska’s Third Congressional District, one of the largest agricultural districts in the country. A district that spans some 65,000 square miles and two time zones, Nebraska’s third district is home to over 30,000 farmers and ranchers who oversee over 38 million acres of farmland.

In the U.S., the district ranks first in the value of sales of grains and oilseeds, second in total value of agricultural product sold, and first in cattle and calve inventory. In 2005, Nebraska’s third district was the largest recipient of federal farm subsidy payments.

To listen to our conversation, just click here (MP3- about nine minutes).

Sen. Harkin: “I see the heavy hand of the White House behind what’s going on here.” (November 17, 2007)

The cloture motion to limit debate on the Senate version of the 2007 Farm Bill failed yesterday on a vote of 55 to 42.

Four members of the GOP voted in favor of the motion, Sen. Coleman (Minn.), Sen. Thune (S.D.), Sen. Grassley (Iowa) and Sen. Smith (Ore).

In his comments prior to the vote, Ag Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) stated on the floor of the Senate that he thought the procedural impasse on the 2007 Farm Bill was being orchestrated by the White House.

Specifically, Sen. Harkin stated that, “I see the heavy hand of the White House behind what’s going on here.”

For complete audio coverage of yesterday’s Senate activity on the cloture vote, just click here (MP3- about 11 minutes).

Chairman Harkin Explains the Importance of Friday’s Cloture Vote (November 15, 2007)

This morning on the Senate floor, Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) explained the importance of Friday morning’s Senate vote regarding cloture and the 2007 Farm Bill.

Recall that Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed a cloture motion on Wednesday in an attempt to place a limit on the delay that has stymied progress on the 2007 Farm Bill over the past several days in the Senate.

To listen to Chairman Harkin’s explanation, just click here (MP3- about four minutes).

Dan Morgan Provides Perspective from the Senate Press Gallery (November 14, 2007)

On Wednesday afternoon I had the chance to speak with Dan Morgan about Senate progress on the 2007 Farm Bill. At the time of our conversation, Dan was monitoring Farm Bill activity from the Senate press gallery.

Dan is a special correspondent of The Washington Post and a Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

To listen to Dan’s observations, just click here (MP3- about seven minutes).

Sen. Conrad On Today’s Washington Post Farm Bill Article (November 13, 2007)

Sen. Kent Conrad addressed his opinions regarding an article from today’s Washington Post that highlighted the Senate version of the 2007 Farm Bill.

The North Dakota Democrat, who is Chairman of the Budget Committee, took issue with the news item on the floor of the U.S. Senate today.

Sen. Conrad used the news article to springboard into a broad colloquy on a range of issues associated with the budget, the media, EU farm policy and U.S. farm policy.

To listen, just click here (MP3- about 12 minutes).

Senate Farm Bill Audio Excerpts From Tuesday: Working Towards an Agreement on Amendments (November 13, 2007)

A sense of frustration permeated the atmosphere on the floor of the U.S. Senate today as issues regarding the amendment process to the 2007 Farm Bill persisted.

At certain points in the day- an agreement between the two parties appeared to be elusive, ultimately however, some progress was made.

Today’s audio excerpts include clips from Majority Leader Reid (D-Nev.), Ag Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Minority Leader McConnell (R- Ky.) and Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia).

To listen just click here (MP3, about nine minutes).

2007 Farm Bill: Senate Floor Audio Montage From Thursday (November 8, 2007)

Today’s Ag Policy Soup podcast includes a sampling of statements made today on the floor of the U.S. Senate regarding various aspects of the 2007 Farm Bill.

The clips start with Sen. Thune of South Dakota explaining why it is important to get the Farm Bill passed.

Also included are clips from Sen. Roberts of Kansas on Farm Bill timing, production agriculture and direct payments; Sen. Conrad from North Dakota on budget issues; and a separate clip from Sen. Chambliss of Georgia with Sen. Conrad in which they discuss Farm Bill expenditures.

To listen, just click here (MP3- about seven minutes).

Senate Farm Bill Audio Excerpts: “Filling the Amendment Tree” (November 7, 2007)

On Tuesday, as the 2007 Farm Bill debate got underway on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) discussed issues regarding relevant Amendments that would be considered in the debate process.

Differing views on this issue stymied progress on the Farm Bill.

To listen to an audio excerpt of part of the discussion from yesterday’s debate between Sens. Reid and McConnell, just click here (MP3- about seven minutes).

Farm Bill on the Senate Floor: Audio Excerpts (November 5, 2007)

The Senate started debating the 2007 Farm Bill today. I have included some audio excerpts from Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND).

The audio comments highlight the broad-based nature of the Farm Bill, note changes in Title I subsidy payments, and hit on conservation issues, as well as foreign food aid.

To listen, just click here (MP3- about five minutes).

Senate Floor Debate Starts Monday (November 4, 2007)

The Senate webpage indicates that the Floor Schedule for Monday includes a 3:00 p.m. time slot to begin consideration of H.R. 2419, the Farm bill.

As the full Senate sets to take up debate of the 2007 Farm Bill, a quick review of a couple of Committee highlights seemed appropriate.

To listen to an audio recap of two interesting issues that came up in the Senate Ag Committee Farm Bill debate, just click here (MP3- four minutes).

Johanns Outlines 2007 Farm Bill Proposals (January 31, 2007)

Today, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns outlined the Bush administration’s proposals with respect to the 2007 Farm Bill.

I have included audio excerpts of the Secretary’s presentation focusing on farm subsidy payment limitations and commodity support proposals.

The audio file also includes analysis from Mary Kay Thatcher of the American Farm Bureau Federation and Scott Faber, the Farm Policy Campaign Director for Environmental Defense.

The audio presentation can be downloaded here and lasts about 10 minutes (MP3).

Washington Post Series “Harvesting Cash” (July 19, 2006)

Today I had the opportunity to speak with Washington Post reporter Dan Morgan.

We discussed “Harvesting Cash,” the ongoing Washington Post series on U.S. farm policy.

To listen to our conversation, just click here (MP3, 14 minutes)

Themes Impacting 07 Farm Bill Debate (June 3, 2006)

Yesterday I spoke with Andy Martin, a National Correspondent for the Chicago Tribune.

We discussed an article he co-authored, “Cycle of votes, insiders keeps money flowing,” which was published in Sunday’s (May 28) Chicago Tribune.

Our conversation focused on the broader themes of the Tribune article and the ongoing debate regarding the nature of U.S. farm policy.

To listen to our conversation, just click here (MP3, 15 minutes).

(Note: Andy Martin is now a reporter for The New York Times).