U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today announced the Committee’s Farm Bill hearing schedule for February and March. As Chairwoman, Stabenow will continue examining Farm Bill principles and evaluating policy solutions to develop a 2012 Farm Bill that creates an environment in which Michigan farmers and small business owners can continue to create jobs. Last year, under Stabenow’s leadership, the agriculture committee was the only committee in Congress to create a detailed, bipartisan plan to reduce its budget. The plan made agriculture programs more cost-effective and cracks down on fraud and abuse to reduce the deficit by tens of billions of dollars while strengthening initiatives to create new Michigan agriculture jobs.
In January, Stabenow delivered an address on the “State of Michigan Agriculture,” which focused on the future of Michigan agriculture and her efforts to strengthen this vital part of Michigan’s economy. Overall agriculture is the second-largest sector of Michigan’s economy and continues to grow, contributing more than $71 billion to the economy annually and supporting one out of every four jobs across the state.
Below are the details of the next series of hearings (dates and topics are subject to change).
Wednesday, February 15
Title: Energy and Economic Growth for Rural America
A hearing to evaluate policies that make investments in jobs and opportunities for farmers and rural businesses through new markets, entrepreneurship, regional strategies and energy innovation.
Wednesday, February 28
Title: Strengthening Conservation through the 2012 Farm Bill
A hearing to explore the Conservation title’s important investment in America – the nation’s fundamental resources of our water, soils and other natural resource infrastructure – through policies that help farmers maintain soil health, keep our water clean and available, our food abundant and safe and our wildlife plentiful so as to protect the basic principles of farming and our way of life for future generations.
Wednesday, March 7
Title: Healthy Food Initiatives, Local Production and Nutrition
A hearing to explore innovative opportunities in agriculture through policies that assist the development of local markets for farmers – connecting them to the growing consumer demand for locally-produced, healthy food options.
Wednesday, March 14
Title: Risk Management and Commodities in the 2012 Farm Bill
A hearing to evaluate the need for and cost effectiveness of risk management tools available to farmers who continue to face increasingly volatile crop prices, input costs and the threat of natural disasters; and how the federal government can provide appropriate risk-management tools while making the best use of limited resources.
Witnesses, times and other specific hearing details to be announced. Senate Agriculture Committee hearings are available for viewing on the Committee website at http://ag.senate.gov.