The surprise postponement of the Senate Ag Committee meeting to mark up the proposed 2012 Farm Bill drew a lot of speculation over the decision. While observers can point to a range of potential issues - from Southern farmer concerns about the impact of proposed changes on their incomes to debates over the extent of the cuts proposed - it turned out to be a one-day delay.
Late Wednesday, the Committee announced that that hearing would begin Thursday morning. In the announcement at the Committee website the statement read:
"The Committee will meet to officially markup the 2012 Farm Bill. Markup is the process during which the committee amends and modifies the bill. For more information about the 2012 Farm Bill, including summaries and legislative text, please visit our Farm Bill page. The markup will be broadcast live on this page on the day of the hearing."
The Committee will have plenty to discuss with more than 100 potential amendments to the 900-page markup print waiting to be considered. Controversial areas include the end of direct payments, the impact of proposed consolidation in conservation programs, changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and more.
Speculation over whether the Senate and House can pull together a final bill in the remaining time allowed this session is running rampant. With time running out, both sides of the aisle are hard at work crafting new bills. The House version of the Farm Bill is still under construction, but House Ag Committee hearings on specific portions of a new farm bill are underway.