Klobuchar optimistic about passage of farm bill
WILLMAR -- U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar is the second member of Minnesota's congressional delegation to express confidence that a new farm bill will be passed this summer.
During a trip to Willmar this week, Klobuchar said floor debate in the Senate is to be held in June.
The bipartisan support in the Agriculture Committee should lead to bipartisan support on the Senate floor, too, she said.
Once it's through the Senate, "there's a lot of pressure on the House to get it done," Klobuchar said.
U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said last week that he was optimistic that the farm bill could be passed before Congress' August recess.
Klobuchar said the farm bill passed out of committee on a 16-5 vote with members of both parties voting in favor of it. All Midwestern senators on the committee supported it.
"That kind of vote shows we believe we have the votes to move forward to get cloture," Klobuchar said, referring to the rule that allows a three-fifths vote to limit debate and move to a vote.
The agriculture committees have planned $23 billion in budget cuts in anticipation of broad budget cuts that will need to be made at the end of the year.
"I can't tell you how important that is for this area," Klobuchar said.
Asked what happens if the farm bill doesn't pass, Klobuchar said it could cause many problems.
It would damage the safety net that has helped keep agriculture "so incredibly productive" for the past decade, she said.
"It's been one of the most stable sectors" of Minnesota's economy," she said.
"Two major reasons Minnesota is ahead of the curve with the rest of the country is our rural economy and the innovation of companies like Medtronic, and their exports. A lot of it has to do with exports."
Other important components of farm bills are disaster relief, school nutrition programs and conservation programs.
Minnesota is the fifth-largest user of conservation programs in the nation, she said.
"This is why, even though it has $23 billion in cuts, the farm groups are supporting, the nutrition groups are supporting it," she said.
"Everyone's taken some cuts, but they realize this is the best way to go," she said.
Klobuchar said several other bipartisan efforts have a chance of passing before election year politics get in the way. They include the Violence Against Women Act and a transportation bill that could bring $700 million a year to Minnesota's roads.