Farm Bill negotiations are back to “square one” now that the congressional debt-reduction Super Committee has failed to come up with a proposal.
That’s the word from U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
“We’re going to have to have hearings, and we’re going to have to have member input, and we’re going to have to have input from all the commodity folks and farm organizations,” he told AgriTalk radio on Tuesday.
Roberts expressed frustration over the process earlier this month where agricultural committee leadership offered cost-cutting proposals to the Super Committee without involving other committee members — or, at least not inviting them to participate to the full extent.
“It was unprecedented,” he said. “It was the most odd and unique farm bill process I’ve ever seen, and I have seen quite a few.”
He said the ag committees ended up abrogating their responsibility to a (super) committee “that was doomed to failure, apparently.”
Reports circulated that the ag leadership had offered $23 billion in spending cuts to the Super Committee. But Roberts said he didn’t know whether that or other numbers would become targets to shoot for once the ag committees reconvene on the matter.
“We’ll be fighting hard to protect agriculture, but also fighting hard to maintain what farmers and ranchers know has to happen with regard to out good-faith efforts to contribute to deficit-reduction,” Roberts said.
“But one thing I will say: We ought to let policy drive the number and not the number drive the policy,” he said. “I think we got ahead of ourselves in these negotiations that were given to the (super) committee.”
He reiterated that many members of the ag committees felt left out of the process.