WASHINGTON—The nation’s largest farm organization is pleased that the U.S. Senate approved its version of the 2012 Farm Bill 64-35. “There is still a lot of hard work ahead to fully secure the kind of policy we believe our farm and ranch families need, but we applaud the Senate for approving a workable bill and moving this process forward,” said Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation . The vote “is most definitely the first step in getting the farm bill passed,” said Wilmer Stoneman, associate director of governmental relations for the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation . “The House has written previous farm bills, so for the Senate to take action shows they’re interested and willing to be in the ballgame.” The House Agriculture Committee announced that it will postpone consideration of a farm bill draft until July 11. “The Senate has provided us solid footing by approving a bill that stands firm on $23 billion in savings, yet protects and strengthens the federal crop insurance program and provides a commodity title that attempts to encourage producers to follow market signals rather than make planting decisions in anticipation of government payments,” Stallman said. The federal farm bill also funds nutrition and food assistance programs. “The farm bill is basically the blueprint for U.S. Department of Agriculture funding for the next five to six years,” Stoneman said. “So the farm bill touches everyone each and every day, because everybody eats or uses something from the farm or benefits from a USDA program.” In votes taken last week regarding the farm bill, Farm Bureau was successful in opposing an amendment that would have prohibited a checkoff program for specific agricultural commodities from being mandatory. The organization was also successful in opposing an amendment that would have eliminated a $4 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, previously known as the Food Stamp Program, and added $50 million annually to the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. Farm Bureau also was successful in opposing an amendment that would have imposed a $250,000 adjusted gross income means test for all programs in the farm bill, including conservation. Farm Bureau was not successful in its efforts to oppose an amendment requiring conservation compliance as a requirement for crop insurance. Once the House approves a version of the farm bill, a committee will convene and make final changes. The actual bill could be passed this summer or, more likely, after November’s election, Stoneman said. “This is a marathon, not a sprint.” Contact Stoneman at 804-290-1024.