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Government

Donnelly seeking Farm Bill solution

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Indiana’s junior senator says Congress will agree on a long-term Farm Bill this year. As part of the fiscal cliff agreement, the current bill was extended through September.

Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana) says in meeting with farmers and ranchers throughout the state this week, they’re demanding a five year bill, so they can have some certainty. He says the inability to produce a new Farm Bill last year had more to do with politics than the substance of the bill.

“It wasn’t that our working together as rural members (of Congress) was no longer as strong. That wasn’t it. It was just that the partisanship was so bitter; we couldn’t get the basics done. That has to go away.”

Donnelly says both the House and Senate versions of the bill made deep cuts in farm spending, and most farmers are willing to give up subsidies.

One sticking point is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which used to be known as food stamps.

“We had folks on the left, who were screaming that we were treating our children inappropriately,” he says. “I love my children. I love everybody’s children, but at the same time, we have to reduce spending. So, we were able to reduce it by $16 billion and still have an effective program.

“We had people on the right, who didn’t want any funding at all,” he says. “Well, that’s not appropriate either.”

The last time Congress passed a new, long-term Farm Bill was in 2008.

Donnelly serves on the Senate Ag Committee and says he’ll continue to bring Hoosier common sense to the panel, as did his predecessor, Richard Lugar. He made the comments Thursday at Purdue before meeting with College of Agriculture administrators, faculty and researchers.

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