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December 14, 2007

Senate Votes - H.R. 2419: Farm Bill (Amendments)

H.R. 2419: Farm, Nutrition, and Bioenergy Act of 2007
To provide for the continuation of agricultural programs through fiscal year 2012, and for other purposes.


Amendments (GovTrack, Thomas)
Amendment Deal in Hand, Senate Resumes Work on Farm Bill
After reaching a last-minute deal on amendments to the farm bill, lawmakers resumed debate Friday on the five-year reauthorization measure.

S.Amdt. 3711 by Sen. Lugar [R-IN]
Relative to traditional payments and loans.
Rejected 37-58

S.Amdt. 3671 by Sen. Gregg [R-NH]
To strike the section requiring the establishment of a Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network.
Rejected 37-58

S.Amdt. 3672 by Sen. Gregg [R-NH]
To strike a provision relating to market loss assistance for asparagus producers.
Rejected 39-56

S.Amdt. 3551 by Sen. Alexander [R-TN]
To increase funding for the Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems, with an offset.
Rejected 19-75

S.Amdt. 3673 by Sen. Gregg [R-NH]
To improve women's access to heath care services in rural areas and provide improved medical care by reducing the excessive burden the liability system places on the delivery of obstetrical and gynecological services.
Rejected 41-53
Congressional Record > Dec 12, 2007 > Section 16

Sen. Judd Gregg [R-NH]: Mr. President, I appreciate the courtesy of the chairman of the Agriculture Committee. I will speak on our amendment dealing with how we get more doctors to be able to care for women in rural communities. We have a real crisis in rural America today. There is a significant shortage of doctors who deliver babies. This is purely a function of one fact, and that is that the trial lawyer bar has been so aggressive in pursuing doctors who deliver babies with lawsuits, they have essentially created a cost of liability insurance for doctors who deliver babies--OB/GYNs--that is so high that a doctor practicing in a rural community who is there to help women having children, deliver those babies safely, that type of doctor cannot make ends meet. That sounds unusual, but that is a fact.

In order for a doctor to generate enough income to simply pay the liability insurance, which is generated by the large number of lawsuits filed against doctors in this country by the trial bar, it is necessary for an OB/GYN--a doctor who delivers babies--to have a very large basically urban or suburban clientele. When you get into rural America and you don't have a lot of people per square mile, where you have people who work on farms and those farms take up a fair amount of acreage, then you don't have the population base necessary for these doctors to practice and generate enough income to pay the liability insurance.

What we are proposing in this amendment is a very narrow proposal. It doesn't say that doctors who are incompetent, or doctors who, unfortunately, make a mistake won't be sued. It doesn't say that at all. It simply says that in the area of rural America where we need to attract doctors so women have adequate health care, especially if they are having children, in those parts of the country--from the standpoint of population, a small part of the country--we are going to have a special consideration that allows doctors to be able to afford their liability insurance.

Sen. Wayne Allard [R-CO]: Mr. President, I thank Senator Gregg from New Hampshire for his amendment. This is a commonsense amendment, and I think it is entirely appropriate to have it on the agriculture bill because it is one that will make a difference in rural America.

I support the amendment which is called the Healthy Mothers and Healthy Babies Access to Care amendment, that contains measures for targeted liability reform directed at curtailing the number of frivolous lawsuits that are filed every year against obstetricians and gynecologists, especially those in rural areas, such as many parts of my State of Colorado.

S.Amdt. 3596 by Sen. Sessions [R-AL]
To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to establish a pilot program under which agricultural producers may establish and contribute to tax-exempt farm savings accounts in lieu of obtaining federally subsidized crop insurance or noninsured crop assistance, to provide for contributions to such accounts by the Secretary of Agriculture, to specify the situations in which amounts may be paid to producers from such accounts, and to limit the total amount of such distributions to a producer during a taxable year, and for other purposes.
Rejected 35-58

S.Amdt. 3553 by Sen. Alexander [R-TN]
To limit the tax credit for small wind energy property expenditures to property placed in service in connection with a farm or rural small business.
Rejected 14-79

S.Amdt. 3695 by Sen. Dorgan [D-ND]
To strengthen payment limitations and direct the savings to increase funding for certain programs.
Rejected 56-43
Bid to Tighten Farm Payment Caps Falls Short in Senate
The Senate on Thursday narrowly rejected a bid to tighten limits on federal payments to farmers, putting the five-year farm policy bill on a path toward passage.

S.Amdt. 3810 by Sen. Klobuchar [D-MN]
To improve the adjusted gross income limitation and use the savings to provide additional funding for certain programs and reduce the Federal deficit.
Rejected 48-47

S.Amdt. 3666 by Sen. Tester [D-MT]
To modify the provisions relating to unlawful practices under the Packers and Stockyards Act.
Rejected 40-55

S.Amdt. 3819 by Sen. Brown [D-OH]
To increase funding for critical Farm Bill programs and improve crop insurance.
Rejected 32-63

S.Amdt. 3640 by Sen. Craig [R-ID]
To prohibit the involuntary acquisition of farmland and grazing land by Federal, State, and local governments for parks, open space, or similar purposes.
Rejected 37-58

Sen. Larry Craig [R-ID]: Mr. President, earlier on, we thought we had a 40-minute time agreement. We are going to start the debate on this amendment. Some of our colleagues want to discuss it. With that in mind, let me open the debate on amendment No. 3640, an amendment we think is critical to America's farmers and ranchers and the value of private property.

Ever since the Supreme Court in 2005 decided on the Kelo decision, I have felt and many others have felt, including the American Farm Bureau, that America's farmers' and ranchers' property is now at a greater risk today than ever before by the issuance of eminent domain, or the broadening of the power of Government as it relates to that issue.

I debated this amendment earlier. Several of my colleagues are on the floor and want to debate this amendment. Let me now turn to my colleague from Colorado, the senior Senator, Mr. Allard, and yield to him 10 minutes for the purpose of debate on this amendment.

Chair: Without objection, it is so ordered. The Senator from Colorado is recognized.

Sen. Wayne Allard [R-CO]: Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Idaho for his leadership on this particular issue. I am involved because farmers and ranchers all over the country are being impacted by their land values since the Supreme Court's ruling in Kelo.

As was stated by the Farm Bureau, farmers and ranchers have been particularly vulnerable to States or local municipalities taking their land for private economic uses, open space or other purposes.

Farmlands in several States have already been taken for open space purposes. The Farm Bureau goes on to say the amendment would strongly discourage the exercise of eminent domain for open space purposes.

I have a strong record of supporting limitations on eminent domain. I have to rise on behalf of my farmers and ranchers in Colorado in support of Senator Craig's amendment. This amendment would protect farmland and ranchland throughout this great Nation from land condemnation for use as open space.

I wish to be clear at the outset that this amendment would not affect uses of eminent domain that have been found to be justified. There are a few legitimate uses for eminent domain powers. Necessary use of eminent domain for items such as utility corridors or military and national security needs would not be affected.

America's farmers and ranchers are some of the best land managers around. Not only do they manage their land in a manner making it the most productive in the world but also in a way that makes it some of the most scenic land in our country and certainly a valuable way of keeping open space because of the nature of their operations.

S.Amdt. 3500 by Sen. Harkin [D-IA]
In the nature of a substitute.
Cloture Motion Agreed to 78-12

Temporary Extension Needed as Senate Farm Bill Debate Drags On
Congress will have to pass a three-month extension of the current farm law because the Senate is still slogging through a new five-year replacement, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson said Wednesday.

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