Player of the Week: Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) is on a mission to have a farm bill signed this year.

The Agriculture Committee chairwoman will get closer to her goal when the Senate passes her bipartisan legislation this week or next.

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 Her handling of the farm legislation has been impressive. Amid her 2012 reelection bid, Stabenow joined forces with then-ranking member Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) to pass a long-term bill, 64-35. The House moved a companion bill through committee, but GOP leaders in the lower chamber didn’t allow a floor vote last year.

This time around, there is more optimism that a bill will be enacted. Stabenow has formed a new partnership with Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), who is now ranking member of the Agriculture panel. 

The 2013 farm bill passed Stabenow’s panel 15-5, and it has the votes to pass the Senate floor.

House Republican leaders, meanwhile, have committed to a vote on farm legislation later this summer.

The House version will be different from the Senate’s. Conservatives in both chambers have expressed concern about the bill’s funding, most notably of food stamps. 

Stabenow says the time for reform is now. In an op-ed in The Hill last month, she wrote, “There can be no more kicking the can down the road. We must pass a farm bill this year to provide certainty to the 16 million Americans whose jobs rely on agriculture.”

She highlights that the Senate bill ends direct payment of subsidies and would yield more than $24 billion in savings.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and ranking member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) have introduced their own bipartisan bill, and regularly consult with their Senate counterparts.

The road to President Obama’s desk will be bumpy for the farm bill, but Stabenow’s aggressive push has improved its chances.