November 22, 2017 rss
header twitter link facebook link home link
View Resource Guide and Job Postings

Columns
DC Image

Washington / Michigan

Debbie Stabenow: Michigan Agriculture’s Ace in the Hole

by Sarah Kellogg
January 16, 2012

Make no mistake about it, U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s position as chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry is a boon for Michigan’s farmers — one of several bits of good news the state’s economy has had in the last year.

Stabenow has been a friend to Michigan agriculture since her days in the state House in the 1980s, and her chairmanship allows her to keep a sharp eye on Michigan’s ag concerns as she leads negotiations on a new national farm bill with the Obama administration and House Republicans. The multi-year farm bill sets federal policy and funding for agriculture and food security programs.

Protecting agriculture from the sharp edge of the ax in Washington will be no easy feat in 2012. There have been and will continue to be calls for major cuts in all federal funding and, more specifically, for agriculture, which has fared better than any number of other industries in the last few years.

“It’s really a good time for agriculture,” Stabenow told the Huron Daily Tribune last week. “Prices are up. But at the same time, I can’t imagine a riskier business. It only takes a few days of bad weather to cause trouble.”

Stabenow says the focus in the farm bill needs to be on risk management. “The thing I’ve heard loudly and clearly is that there needs to be a safety net there when there’s a loss,” she said. “Crop insurance is really important when there’s a loss because of bad weather. That’s when there needs to be support.”

Last winter, House Republicans proposed $30 billion in cuts to commodities and crop insurance, $18 billion to conservation, and $127 billion to nutrition programs, which make up a substantial chunk of the farm bill. The White House followed up with a 2012 budget bill that would have reduced agriculture by $33 billion. Both proposals targeted direct payments to commodities farmers. The payments have become a target in Washington as farmers have thrived in recent years.

Agriculture came under scrutiny by the so-called congressional super committee last fall, as lawmakers looked to strip $1.2 trillion from the federal budget. To avoid a bloodletting, Stabenow worked with her House GOP counterpart to find an acceptable compromise. The two found agreement, proposing $23 billion in cuts — or 2 percent of the overall super committee reduction target. Coincidentally, or not, agriculture makes up 2 percent of total federal spending.

Despite the failure of the super committee to act last fall, the negotiations proved a victory for Stabenow, who was able to make friends (and some enemies, of course) in both parties and among the interest groups lobbying on the bill. She also was able to chart a reasonable course for how to best cast the farm bill during negotiations in 2012.

All this comes as Stabenow is facing a potentially difficult re-election this fall. Former U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Holland and Clark Durant, a Grosse Pointe attorney and charter school executive, are the top GOP contenders to face her in November. Neither man is a novice and both have access to money, but they face an uphill battle. Stabenow has rarely lost an election in her many years in office, and she is a fervent and focused fighter.

A November EPIC-MRA poll showed Stabenow ahead of both Hoekstra (six points) and Durant (20 points), but Stabenow had less-than-compelling job approval ratings, 41 percent approved of her work and 52 percent didn’t. Hoekstra and Durant had bigger problems, though; both were “unknown” by a significant portion of those polled.

Additionally, a January 9 online poll by MLive.com asked which candidate Republican voters would most like to see take on Stabenow in 2012. Durant led the field with 27 percent, followed by former Kent County juvenile court judge Randy Hekman (20 percent), Hoekstra (18 percent), American Family Association of Michigan President Gary Glenn (13 percent), software developer and businessman Peter Konetchy (12 percent) and Howell businessman Chuck Marino (4 percent). This plethora of options is not a good sign for Republicans, who need to rally behind a candidate early and conclusively to gain the money and momentum to beat Stabenow.

So, as the GOP candidates are bickering among themselves this spring and summer, Stabenow will be leading an effort to champion Michigan agriculture in Washington. Agriculture contributes more than $71 billion annually to the Michigan economy, and it accounts for one out of every four jobs in the state. It is the Michigan economy’s second-largest sector.

The current farm bill expires in September 2012, and successful passage of the bill before the November election would be a feather in Stabenow’s cap. She says she’s determined to protect crop insurance from reductions — and even expand it so all crops can be adequately protected. She also expects lawmakers will continue to move away from direct payments, but there will be plenty of financial opportunities in the bill for Michigan’s specialty crops of fruits and vegetables — a cause dear to Stabenow’s heart.

“From every direction, people have been calling for huge cuts to production agriculture at a time when agriculture is one of the few bright spots in our economy,” Stabenow said recently in a speech to the Michigan Agri-Business Association’s 79th Annual Winter Conference. “Agriculture has already done more than its part. Crop insurance and research have both taken big cuts already, so I have been very concerned that agriculture has become an easy target for drastic cuts.”

Stabenow is also likely to push her “Grow it Here, Make it Here” initiative to boost domestic bio-based manufacturing. There are some 80 companies in Michigan making bio-based products, such as soaps, cleaning products, plastics, fabrics and foam products, some of which are used by the auto companies.

While Congress can take years to complete critical bills like the farm bill, there is enough pressure from people on both sides of the aisle to get it done this year, even if an election is looming. Stabenow will be a critical player in whether Congress completes its work or not, and she is moving with speed and determination to get the bill done.

A victory on the bill, of course, would translate into great PR for Stabenow as she campaigns this fall, although the double-edged sword of policy-making can cut two ways if the bill angers some stakeholders who take their complaints to the voters.

Ultimately, Stabenow’s chairmanship is good news for Michigan, its economy and its farmers, even if it proves to be bad news for her political enemies, many of whom may be actively rooting and conspiring against her as she tackles one of the biggest assignments of her long legislative career.

Only time will tell whether politics or policy wins out — for either party.

Sarah Kellogg covered the Michigan congressional delegation and the federal government as the chief Washington correspondent for Booth Newspapers for 14 years. Before joining the Washington Bureau, Sarah covered state politics and government in the Booth Newspapers Lansing Bureau and directed Lansing coverage for United Press International. She helped launch MIRS’ Capitol Capsule, and served as its first writer and editor. A regular Dome columnist, she currently works as a freelance writer and editor for regional and national publications.

January 16, 2012 · Filed under DC Tags: , , ,

34 responses so far ↓

  • 1 harvey bronstein // Jan 18, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    Never underestimate Debbie Stabenow.

  • 2 Diane Culter // Jan 19, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    At the school where I teach, we are planning a school hoop-house for the students to learn more about farming and science. We also have many community members volunteering to assist in this event. I hope that the state government can help via grants, etc. to help make this an on-going success this year.

  • 3 David Gilstrap // Feb 4, 2012 at 10:17 am

    It will be interesting to see if Farm Bureau once again does not endorse Stabinow, i.e., declare her a “Friend of Agriculture” with its follow up hefty contribution. In 2008, they of course went for that farmboy Bouchard whom garnered just over 40% of the votes. Over the years, FB’s continued rebuffs bear out that their first priority is not the agriculture industry but the insurance industry.

  • 4 مجله پزشکی // Mar 6, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    99514 270114Chaga mushroom tea leaf is thought-about any adverse health elixir at Spain, Siberia and plenty of n . Countries in europe sadly contains before you go ahead significantly avoidable the main limelight under western culture. Mushroom 825561

  • 5 Polaris Ranger Parts // Mar 8, 2014 at 7:43 am

    646536 865408There is numerous separate years Los angeles Weight reduction eating plan with each a person is a necessity. The pioneer part can be your original getting rid of belonging to the extra pounds. la weight loss 437642

  • 6 how to create your own website // Mar 8, 2014 at 10:50 am

    915562 779226Fantastic post, I conceive blog owners ought to acquire a great deal from this web blog its real user pleasant. 770573

  • 7 iphone 5s // Mar 8, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    531010 941130You can definitely see your enthusiasm in the paintings you write. 783888

  • 8 bat removal service nj // Mar 9, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    200906 922874This will likely be a fantastic site, may well you be interested in performing an interview about how you developed it? If so e-mail me! 458110

  • 9 online slot games // Mar 10, 2014 at 11:10 am

    607770 527122Usually the New york Weight Loss diet is certainly less expensive and flexible staying on your diet scheme intended for measures however fast then duty keep a nutritious daily life. weight loss 314009

  • 10 play blackjack online // Mar 10, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    43069 397238However, what concerning the conclusion? Are you positive concerning the source? 745106

  • 11 visit this site // Mar 11, 2014 at 1:51 am

    612248 619829Some genuinely excellent information , Gladiola I detected this. 258002

  • 12 Del Mar Appliance Removal // Mar 11, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    249880 106721This constantly amazes me exactly how blog owners for example yourself can find the time and also the commitment to keep on composing fantastic blog posts. Your site isexcellent and one of my own ought to read blogs. I simply want to thank you. 608922

  • 13 hidemyass pro // Mar 11, 2014 at 11:29 pm

    History dosage ibuprofen Preparing, dispensing, and administering

  • 14 turbulence training review // Mar 12, 2014 at 10:35 am

    326909 147442Thanks for all your efforts that you have put in this. very interesting info . 269970

  • 15 photographer in az // Mar 12, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    440764 686817Some genuinely good and utilitarian information on this internet web site , likewise I believe the layout has wonderful capabilities. 13002

  • 16 hay day cheats and tips // Mar 13, 2014 at 8:29 am

    This is a topic that is close to my heart¡­ Thank you! Where are your contact details though?

  • 17 starting your own blog // Mar 13, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    419719 888061Yay google is my world beater assisted me to locate this excellent internet web site ! . 358034

  • 18 About lamda print // Mar 13, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    608647 808861I gotta favorite this site it seems very beneficial . 501901

  • 19 How to make a lenticular design // Mar 13, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    188091 969675This internet page is often a walk-through for all with the details it suited you with this and didn

  • 20 how to build your own website // Mar 14, 2014 at 12:04 am

    940657 588970Nice read. I just passed this onto a buddy who was doing some research on that. He just bought me lunch since I found it for him! Thus let me rephrase: Thanx for lunch! 210683

  • 21 hacks video // Mar 14, 2014 at 8:43 am

    One important thing is that if you find yourself searching for a student loan you may find that you will need a co-signer. There are many cases where this is correct because you may find that you do not employ a past credit score so the lender will require that you’ve got someone cosign the borrowed funds for you. Good post.

  • 22 the orlando vacation store // Mar 14, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    420465 15783Thank you, I

  • 23 iphone screen protector scratch proof // Mar 15, 2014 at 2:45 am

    902612 700916The other day, while I was at work, my sister stole my iphone and tested to see if it can survive a 40 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it with someone! 383805

  • 24 iphone 5 full screen protector // Mar 15, 2014 at 2:57 am

    318255 571388You might find effective specific development of any L . a . Weight loss program and each and every you

  • 25 Bonus Bagging scam // Mar 15, 2014 at 8:22 am

    Every single each day e-mail of our totally free product research prospects newsletter goes out around the globe to people in america hunting for no cost publicity and products critiques for their items on the net. Those incorporate product or service promoters, entrepreneurs, community kinfolk or exposure industry experts, and by now with any luck , on your own, too!

  • 26 Salehoo review // Mar 15, 2014 at 8:50 am

    We notice on aiding bloggers and on-line reviewers. If your self have a solution you’d which includes to proportion with our around the world viewers of reviewers and charity celebration organizers, remember to speak to us in excess of advertising and marketing at. We can showcase your merchandise towards the suitable readers towards help you attain evaluations and publicity online!

  • 27 Child Custody Attorney in Williamsburg Virginia // Mar 15, 2014 at 10:47 am

    958014 454823Spot i

  • 28 Rodger Hamasaki // Mar 15, 2014 at 11:15 am

    There is perceptibly a bunch to identify about this. I assume you made some good points in features also.

  • 29 Used Cars in Baltimore // Mar 15, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    591741 818349I definitely did not realize that. Learnt something new correct now! Thanks for that. 413331

  • 30 Ricki Raiford // Mar 17, 2014 at 3:43 am

    There¡¯s definately a great deal to know about this topic. I really like all of the points you made.

  • 31 build a website // Mar 17, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    214363 174279Your writing is fine and gives food for thought. I hope that I

  • 32 ivfkycpe // Mar 17, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    disapointing because make adore ivfkycpe

  • 33 build a website // Mar 17, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    366637 163832Attractive portion of content. I merely stumbled upon your weblog and in accession capital to assert that I get in fact loved account your weblog posts. Anyway I will probably be subscribing to your augment and even I success you get admission to constantly rapidly. 174372

  • 34 get a quote // Mar 17, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    729550 722120As I site possessor I believe the content material material here is actually excellent , regards for your efforts. 806768


Advertisment


Advertisment


© 2007-2011 DomeMagazine.com. All rights reserved. Site design by Kimberly Hopkins, khopdesign, llc.