Senators Thursday morning voted 75-22 to limit debate on the Farm Bill and move toward a scheduled final vote at 4:30 p.m. central time on June 10, according to Senate Majority Leader schedules.
Prior to Thursday's cloture vote, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the Senate Ag Committee, reminded legislators of the economic importance of the bill, and the work that has gone into bill language.
"This particular bill includes 38 amendments that were passed on the floor during our debate last year, as we considered 73 amendments just a few months ago and another 14 amendments that we added to the bill this year, and so I appreciate the input that colleagues have had to make this a strong Farm Bill with major reforms and real deficit reduction," Stabenow said.
Several farm and livestock groups pushed for the cloture vote to keep the bill from stalling in the Senate. The National Milk Producers, supporters of the bill for including a provision that was designed with NMPF cooperation, said the Senate "deserves the sincere thanks for dairy farmers nationwide" for moving forward with cloture.
“Dairy farmers have been waiting two years for Congress to approve the new dairy program. Thanks to today’s vote, they can look forward to the end of price supports," NMPF CEO Jerry Kozak said in a statement.
After the cloture vote, Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., said in a statement he supported the larger bill, noting that "farmers and ranchers need the long-term certainty only a farm bill can provide," even if it doesn’t include some of the provisions he has pushed for.
"Congress has drug its feet for too long. While this is not the bill I would have written, I believe – warts and all – it is better than no farm bill and significantly better than the bill passed by the House Ag Committee."
And, as Johanns pointed out, there are significant differences between the House and Senate Farm Bills – something Sen. Stabenow is confident can be overcome. The Senator said late last month she expected conferencing to be difficult but conservation compliance provisions should keep the bills moving.
The House is expected to bring their version to the floor this month.