Skip to content

Stabenow, the 2012 Farm Bill and running for re-election

January 10, 2012

Yesterday, MLive posted a brief story based upon a speech that Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow gave in Lansing to the Michigan Agri-Business Association.

The article, by Press reporter Jim Harger, states that Stabenow is trying to make the best of the Super Committee debacle in her role as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. The article adds that she and other committee leaders were able to agree on $23 billion worth of cuts in the Agriculture Department’s budget.

Most of the cuts were in subsidies and the consolidation of farmland conservation programs, although there are no details on which subsidies will be cut and which farm industries will be impacted because of the cuts. It is worth looking at which industries and which farmers in Michigan have benefited from Farm Bill subsidies in the past and it is worth noting that there are some misconceptions about agricultural subsidies, which is the topic of a new report from Food and Water Watch.

The MLive story does provide a link to Stabenow’s speech from yesterday, but they offer up no analysis. The beginning of her speech deals with the MF Global scandal, which essentially means that billions of dollars will be lost to numerous investors, particularly those in the agricultural sector, because of the corporate greed and fraudulent behavior of those involved in speculative capital.

The second part of the Senator’s speech dealt specifically with the future of agri-business in Michigan. She states, “Michigan Agriculture is strong and growing, not only because of our incredible growers and producers, but because of companies like yours that provide services and products to farmers, in crop protection, crop fertility, grain handlers, farm credit, equipment manufacturing.”

Stabenow made such a statement since she was addressing a mostly non-farming audience at the 2012 Michigan Agri-business Association conference that is currently taking place in Lansing. The Michigan Senator addressed that audience by reflecting on her visits to such agri-business sites over the past year in Michigan, places like the Dow AgriSciences in Harbor Beach and the DuPont Pioneer and the Monsanto facilities in Constantine.

This should give us an indication of where the Senator’s allegiance lies……..with the Agri-business industry and not with small farmers and farmers which promote organic, local and sustainable practices.

There is further indication of this based on the presenters at the 2012 Michigan Agri-Business Association conference. One can see that the majority of those speaking at technicians, lawyers, government ag committee people, trade associations and representatives of the global food cartel such as Monsanto. Now it is certainly hard to know whether or not small farmers and local farmers committed to sustainable practices are in attendance, but they certainly are not represented on any of the breakout sessions listed.

Considering that Senator Stabenow is in re-election mode, it is less likely that she will be receptive to those sectors of society, which cannot afford to financially influence electoral outcomes. According to OpenSecrets, the number one PAC donors for her re-election campaign have been Agribusiness ($222,231). In the breakdown of industries making financial contributions, 2 of the top 20 are also branches of the Agribusiness sector.

This is information that MLive omitted from their story and it is information that doesn’t appear to be very optimistic for those working on a state campaign to get Stabenow to push for major changes in the 2012 Farm Bill that will benefit small farmers and the public in general.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: