Chairwoman Stabenow's Bipartisan Farm Bill Clears Key Senate Hurdle with 90 Votes
Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow today announced that the Senate voted 90-8 to move forward on the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 (a.k.a. "the Farm Bill"). The Farm Bill required at least 60 votes to be brought to the floor for consideration, overwhelmingly clearing the legislation's first major hurdle in the Senate.
Stabenow's Farm Bill will reduce the deficit $23 billion dollars by eliminating unnecessary direct payment subsidies, consolidating programs to end duplication, and cracking down on food assistance abuse. These reforms will allow agriculture initiatives critical for Michigan to be strengthened.
"When we grow things here and make things here, we create jobs here in Michigan," said Stabenow. "Agriculture supports nearly one in four Michigan jobs and 16 million jobs nationwide. This Farm Bill is a jobs bill and it's time for Congress to get it done."
Stabenow continued, "This Farm Bill represents the greatest reform in agriculture in decades. The bill ends unnecessary direct payment subsidies, consolidates programs and cracks down on fraud and abuse. With these reforms we saved billions that allowed us to strengthen initiatives that are effectively helping farmers and businesses create new Michigan jobs."
Stabenow was joined by top Agriculture Committee Republican Pat Roberts (R-Kansas) in introducing the bipartisan Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act. The Senate Agriculture Committee approved the bill on April 26 with a strong bipartisan vote of 16-5.
TheAgriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012would reduce the deficit by:
§ Finally ending direct payment farm subsidies, meaning farmers will no longer be paid for crops they are not growing; will not be paid for acres that are not actually planted; and will not be paid when they are already doing well. Instead farmers will only receive support in the face of actual price or yield drops. Crop insurance will be strengthened to ensure farmers are protected from being wiped out by a few days of bad weather.
§ Cracking down on fraud and abuse in food assistance programs so resources are used for those who truly need them. For example, the proposal would take lotto winners off of food assistance, stop misuse by college students, and crack down on benefit trafficking.
§ Making agriculture initiatives more cost-effective-eliminating over 100 programs and authorizations in the agriculture committees' jurisdiction while still largely accomplishing the same goals and making programs easier to use. For example, 23 existing conservation programs are consolidated into 13 while still maintaining the same tools currently available to protect our land and water-even increasing investment in top priorities like Great Lakes Protection.
TheAgriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012would help farmers, ranchers and small business owners create jobs by:
§ Expanding export opportunities to help farmers sell in new markets
§ Strengthening research and other initiatives to support innovation among American fruit and vegetable growers-particularly important to Michigan as our agriculture sector is based more on fruits and vegetables much more than many other states.
§ Helping family farmers sell locally, increasing support for farmers' markets and spurring the creation of food hubs to connect farmers to schools and other community-based organizations.
§ Providing training and access to capital to help beginning farmers to get off the ground.
§ Creating initiatives to assist American veterans instarting agriculture businesses.
§ Helping new bio-manufacturing businesses (which use agricultural products to replace petroleum-based plastics in manufactured goods) start, and existing ones expand
§ Spurring advancements in bio-energy production
§ Extending rural development initiatives to help rural communities grow their economies
More detailed summaries and the full text of the 2012 Farm Bill is available on the Senate Agriculture Committee's website: http://www.ag.senate.gov/issues/farm-bill.
Here's the scariest thing: by attaching himself to the "Birther" movement, Hoekstra is all-but-guaranteed to raise a ton of money from the most radical fringe of his party. And you can bet he'll spend every dollar of that on more divisive ads attacking Debbie.
Stabenow Recognized as a Champion for Jobs
Receives Green Jobs Champion Award for her work to make Michigan a center for new advanced manufacturing
Senator Stabenow was awarded with the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation's annual Green Jobs Champion Award for her work to make Michigan a center of new advanced manufacturing. Stabenow has been a leader in boosting Michigan's alternative energy and advanced manufacturing sectors, and has helped create public-private partnerships that are making a real difference throughout Michigan.
Senator Stabenow said: "New clean energy technologies are transforming Michigan's economy, spurring new job growth and reducing America's dependence on foreign oil. Michigan businesses and entrepreneurs are leading the nation in clean energy patents and advanced battery research and production. I am honored to accept this award on behalf of the highly-skilled, hardworking men and women across our state."
This is the fifth year of the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation's Good Jobs Green Jobs conference. Regional conferences were held in Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Atlanta. The two-day conference brought together business, environmental, labor, nonprofit and elected leaders from across the Midwest to discuss getting Americans to work in good jobs in the alternative energy sector. Congressman John Dingell also received this year's award.
The Paycheck Fairness Act is coming up for a vote, and Republicans in the Senate are threatening to block it.
If the Republican filibuster threat sounds familiar, that is because it is. Just last week, one of my Republican opponents said he thought the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was "a nuisance" that "shouldn't be law."
But we need your help to send a strong message.
Stabenow named Alzheimer's Association's 2012 Humanitarian
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow was recognized by the Alzheimer's Association last night for her work promoting Alzheimer's research and care. Stabenow received the group's 2012 Humanitarian Award, and is leading the fight in Congress for better diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's disease.
Senator Stabenow said: "Those who should be recognized are the real heroes who are living with this disease every day - patients, their families and their doctors. I commend the Alzheimer's Association for being a great advocate as we look for a cure and support patients and their caregivers who are dealing with this devastating disease."
Alzheimer's Association President and CEO Harry Johns said: "We applaud Senator Stabenow's continued leadership on Alzheimer's. By authoring and championing the Health, Outcomes, Planning and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer's Act (S. 738/H.R. 1386), which would improve access to diagnosis and care planning, she demonstrates her sensitivity to the Alzheimer's crisis and much needed support for families."
Legendary women's college basketball coach Pat Summitt was also recognized. Summitt, who recently resigned as coach of the University of Tennessee's women's basketball team because she is suffering from early onset Alzheimer's, was presented with the Alzheimer's Association's Sargent and Eunice Shriver Profiles in Dignity Award. Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) also received an award for his work as a leader on Alzheimer's disease in the House of Representatives.
Senator Stabenow introduced the Health Outcomes, Planning and Education (HOPE) for Alzheimer's Act last year to help doctors detect Alzheimer's disease earlier and ensure patients and families are better equipped to fight the disease. She was a cosponsor of the National Alzheimer's Project Act in 2010, which set into motion the National Plan to Address Alzheimer's disease. She is also an original cosponsor of a new resolution introduced by Senator Warner on Tuesday that supports the National Plan's goal of preventing and effectively treating Alzheimer's disease by 2025.
There are an estimated 5.4 million people living with Alzheimer's disease in the United States, including 800,000 who live alone. One in eight seniors will develop the disease , and 200,000 people under 65 are suffering from early onset Alzheimer's disease. The Alzheimer's Association is a world leader in Alzheimer care, support and research.
When President Obama was sworn into office in 2009, the first bill he signed into law was the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, guaranteeing equal pay for equal work. Debbie Stabenow co-sponsored that law and worked hard to get it passed in the Senate.
While our opponent is calling equal pay for women "a nuisance," Debbie Stabenow is fighting to create jobs in the new economy for Michigan. She is the kind of Senator Michigan needs.
Thank you for your support,
Sen. Debbie Stabenow:
Clean energy helps link Farm Bill, manufacturing and agriculture:
(From MLive.Com) Michigan is at the forefront of developing new, clean energy technologies and Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry is leading the effort.
From Senator Stabenow:
Rigged against you
America’s tax code is rigged against the middle class.
It’s time the system worked for middle-class families again. We need opportunities to grow our economy, and to create new jobs in clean energy and advanced manufacturing. It's time to pass the Buffett Rule so we have a tax system that rewards the hard work of middle-class families and small businesses.
Sign the petition:
I have never seen it this bad.
Will you donate $10 or whatever you can afford to help me run a strong campaign so I can keep fighting for jobs and the issues that really matter to Michigan families?
Senator Stabenow Praises Passage of Middle Class Tax Cut
Package Also Continues, but Reduces, Emergency Federal Unemployment Benefits; These Reductions Hit Michigan Harder than Other States
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow today issued the following statement on Senate passage of legislation to cut payroll taxes for middle class families, which will save the average Michigan family approximately $1,000 in 2012:
"It was critically important that Congress come together to extend this tax cut for middle class families. This vote will prevent the average Michigan family from seeing their taxes increase one thousand dollars at a time when many can least afford it. A thousand dollar tax hike on middle class families would have been a tremendous blow to our economy just as Michigan is beginning to see things turn around."
Along with cutting middle class taxes, the package passed today also continues emergency unemployment insurance benefits for laid off workers-had Congress done nothing by the end of February, emergency federal benefits would have ended. However, while today's package ensures federal benefits are not completely eliminated, it also reduces those benefits per Republican demands. And because these cuts in federal benefits are based on each state's base benefit, and because the Michigan legislature cut state benefits to the lowest in the country last year, today's cuts will hit unemployed families in Michigan harder than other states.
Senator Stabenow said, "While it is important that we were able to continue emergency benefits for families struggling with unemployment through no fault of their own, I am deeply concerned that Republicans insisted on reducing those benefits. Michigan is coming back but still has one of the higher unemployment rates in the country, so it is just not right that out-of-work people in our states are facing more cuts than those in other states."
The payroll tax extension and extended unemployment provisions also passed the House of Representatives today. The President is expected to sign the package.
Below is a map of the tax cut's impact, county by county in Michigan. (Data from the U.S. Congressional Joint Economic Committee)
Chairwoman Stabenow Announces New "Grow it Here, Make it Here" Initiative to Advance Emerging Michigan Industry at Henry Ford's Historic Soybean Lab in Greenfield Village
Chairwoman Stabenow Unveils New Initiative to Spur Bio-based Manufacturing; Henry Ford Pioneered Agricultural Products in Automobiles - Today Ford Again Using Bio-based Materials in Vehicles
U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today announced her new Grow it Here, Make it Hereinitiativeto advance Michigan's emerging bio-based manufacturing industry. Bio-based manufacturing, using agriculture goods to make value-added products, is an industry poised to grow and create jobs in Michigan. The Grow it Here, Make it Here initiative includes several provisions to support Michigan bio-based manufacturers and innovators to spur new job growth.
Stabenow announced her initiative at a news conference at the Henry Ford Soybean Lab Agricultural Gallery at Greenfield Village in Dearborn. Senator Stabenow pointed out that Henry Ford was one of Michigan's greatest bio-manufacturing pioneers, building his research laboratory in Greenfield Village in 1930 to discover how he could use Michigan-grown soy and other agriculture products in his automobiles. Today, there are once again cars rolling down assembly lines across America being built with parts made from agricultural products: seats, interior panels, armrests, sunshades, soy wire coatings, carpets, and structural foam. Stabenow was joined by representatives from Ford Motor Company, the Henry Ford, Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee, and the Bio Alliance Council.
Chairwoman Stabenow said: "When we grow things here and make things in Michigan, we create jobs in Michigan. Henry Ford knew this over 80 years ago when he discovered how to use agriculture products in his automobiles. Today, Michigan innovators are building off of his work to make things with Michigan-grown products. We are at the forefront of bio-based manufacturing, and my initiative will help businesses who want to invest and create new jobs here in America."
John Viera, Global Director, Sustainability and Vehicle Environmental Matters at Ford Motor Company said: "The use of soy grown in the Mid-West, which is then used to build Ford vehicles here at home, is a win-win for the environment and American jobs. We want to thank Senator Stabenow for her leadership and designing legislation that will help provide incentives for the use of biomaterials in manufacturing."
Keith Reinholt, Field Operations Director of the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee said: "On behalf of Michigan soybean producers, we would like to commend Senator Stabenow on being such a strong advocate of the bio-based market development programs which creates jobs in Michigan and benefits the environment. This support is especially meaningful to the soybean industry as the vast majority of the new bio-based products are formulated with soybean oil."
Tracey Maroney, Director of the Bio Alliance Council, a partnership between Michigan Works! and Prima Civitas Foundation said: "Michigan has geographic advantages over other states in terms of diverse feedstocks, vast agricultural supply chains and bio research facilities. Michigan has the ability to shape its own future and has significant opportunities to expand its bio-based industry and advance its position in the global bioeconomy market. I want to thank Senator Stabenow for her commitment to growing Michigan's bio-based economy and creating new jobs."
Senator Stabenow's Grow it Here, Make it Here Initiative consists of four parts:
Strengthens the Biopreferred Program, which certifies and labels products so consumers can choose to purchase goods made of agriculture materials, and provides a preference for these products for government purchases. Her initiative also calls for greater accountability in the initiative, including auditing and compliance activities to ensure the integrity of the certified label. USDA's Biopreferred Program offers over 8,900 bio-based products, including 540 products made by 90 Michigan companies.
Spurs the commercialization of new agricultural innovations by streamlining and focusing resources to help new bio-based projects move from the development to the commercialization phase, also known as the "valley of death" since far too many good ideas do not make it out of this phase. Her initiative focuses the USDA's Biomass Research and Development Initiative on the commercialization of bio-based products-bridging this gap to help accelerate the bio-based industry.
Increases access to capital for bio-based manufacturers by expanding the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Biorefinery Loan Guarantee Program, so bio-based manufacturers have access to loans to help finance new operations or expand existing ones.
Creates a new tax cut for Michigan companies that invest in new facilities or purchase equipment to manufacture bio-based products. Specifically, her initiative will allow companies to qualify for up to a 30% tax credit to help finance investments in new, expanded, or re-equipped bio-based manufacturing, creating new jobs. Only companies that manufacture these products in America will be eligible for this incentive.
Last Wednesday, Chairwoman Stabenow convened a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing to examine the job-creation potential of bio-based manufacturing in Michigan and across the country. From car parts to cleaning products, soaps, insulation, plastics, foam goods, and fabrics, bio-based products are finding their way into a wide variety of sectors in our economy. Now Stabenow's Grow it Here, Make it Here initiative would help this emerging industry expand and grow throughout the state, and the country.
Michigan innovators and entrepreneurs are processing Michigan-grown crops such as wheat, sugar, corn and soy for use in advanced manufactured goods across the state. Bio-based manufacturing is a key sector of Michigan's agriculture industry. Agriculture is Michigan's second largest industry, supporting one out of every four Michigan jobs.
Using American-grown bio-based products displaces foreign petroleum, reducing the nation's dependence on foreign oil. This redirects investment into domestic operations rather than sending wealth abroad (often to nations hostile to America's interests) and strengthens American manufacturing and agriculture. Currently, bio-based products represent 4% of the market for the plastic and chemical industries, replacing petroleum based products. Recent U.S. Department of Agriculture analysis puts the potential market share of bio-based plastic and chemical products in excess of 20% by 2025 with adequate federal policy support. Studies show that if that 20% threshold is realized, it would create over 100,000 American jobs. Other forms of bio-based manufacturing would create even more.
To read more about Michigan's emerging bio-based manufacturing industry, please click here.
New Report: Stabenow-Levin Agreement Substantially Cuts Canadian Trash
Following Success of Original Agreement, Senators Have Sponsored Legislation to Further Reduce Canadian Trash Shipments
A new report from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) released today shows that an agreement negotiated by U.S. Senators Stabenow and Levin with the government of Ontario has substantially reduced Canadian trash shipments into Michigan. Stabenow and Levin secured an agreement from Ontario in 2006 to stop dumping municipally managed trash in Michigan by the end of 2010. That agreement has stopped 40,000 truckloads of Canadian trash from crossing into Michigan every year.
The Department's annual FY 2011 Report of Solid Waste Landfilled in Michigan, which measures year-over-year changes in landfilled waste, says that Canadian trash has been considerably reduced, largely as a result of the Senators' agreement, with a 20 percent reduction in Canadian trash in the past year alone. Today's report covers landfilled waste from October, 2010 through September 2011. Under the Stabenow-Levin agreement, Ontario committed to stop the dumping of all of Ontario's municipally-managed waste in Michigan by December 31, 2010, three months into the reporting period.
Senator Debbie Stabenow said: "This report reflects the success of our agreement and the important progress we have made in stopping this trash. Canadian trash poses serious health, safety, and security threats to Michigan families and communities, and I remain committed to stopping other types of trash being dumped in our state."
Senator Carl Levin said: "I'm pleased that trash shipments from Canada have been reduced significantly since the 2006 agreement, and that it appears Canada continues to fulfill its obligations under that agreement. We're going to continue to work to eliminate the balance of Canada's trash shipments, either through further agreement or through legislation."
For more information on the Stabenow-Levin agreement that has already halted 40,000 Canadian trash trucks click here.
Following the success of the Stabenow-Levin agreement, which slammed the breaks on Ontario trash trucks, Senators Stabenow and Levin are sponsoring new legislation that would address the remaining Canadian Trash shipments. The Stop Canadian Trash Act (S.840), authored by Sen. Stabenow and cosponsored by Senator Levin, would discourage the shipment of the remaining Canadian private sector waste and strengthen border security by requiring Canadian companies shipping waste to the United States to pay a $500 user fee at the border. This fee would to provide the Department of Homeland Security with the resources to inspect every trash truck. Senator Levin introduced legislation (S. 860), cosponsored by Senator Stabenow, that would stop the importation of Canadian waste if the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection cannot show that the screening of municipal solid waste imported into the U.S. is effective from a national security standpoint.
A 2006 Department of Homeland Security Report found that because so few trucks are thoroughly inspected, Canadian trash trucks have brought more than just trash into the U.S., including medical waste, illegal drugs, and illegal currency.
We couldn’t believe it when we found out Pete Hoekstra bought TV ads during the Super Bowl.
Hundreds of people in Michigan have already taken the field.
Will you join them by contributing $10, $25 or $100 right now?
In just a few short hours, Republican Pete Hoekstra will launch the first attack ad of 2012 in the U.S. Senate race... just as families are sitting down to watch the Super Bowl.
Pete Hoekstra knows he has a serious image problem. Here are some of the things the video highlights that Pete Hoekstra hopes you forget:
1,000 grassroots contributors by the end of January
Next January, we will have a new Senate. The question is, will we have done enough to make it a Democratic one?
Only four seats stand in the way of a Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate, and they understand their road to victory runs through Michigan. And believe me, we understand that too.
Today, we celebrate the 175th birthday of the Great State of Michigan!
On January 26, 1837, President Andrew Jackson signed the law giving Michigan statehood. And what an incredible 175 years it has been!
Click here to share some of your reasons why Michigan is the greatest state in the country, and we’ll post some of the responses we get on Facebook and Twitter.
U.S. Sen. Stabenow on agricultural industry: 'Even in these tough times, it's growing'
KOCHVILLE TWP. — Debbie Stabenow was in familiar company, working for a familiar cause, when she spoke to a crowd of Michigan Sugar shareholders about the future of the state’s agricultural industry.
Stabenow optimistic about clean energy, job growth
BAD AXE — U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow is optimistic about the opportunities surrounding new clean energies, though the Michigan Democrat cautioned it will take time and legislative changes to ease the nation’s reliance on foreign oil and create new jobs.
“The reality is, I think, we need to continue to move forward and find the right combinations to create jobs. Because there are a lot of opportunities for Michigan moving forward,” Stabenow told the Tribune in an interview Friday morning.
“And a lot of jobs have already been created. We’re seeing right here in the Thumb what’s happening with the wind farms and the effectiveness of that,” she added.
Stabenow said in different parts of the country there have been great long-term job gains, and she wants to see that in Michigan.
“The jobs are in making the parts, making the solar units, (for example),” she said. “That’s why Dow (Chemical Co.) is so important ... (because) manufacturing component parts is where the jobs are. But it takes time.”
Dow, with headquarters in Midland, manufactures Dow Powerhouse solar roof shingles and advanced batteries.
She said there opportunities for other companies to follow Dow’s lead.
“There are a lot of opportunities for us,” she said. “As start up companies get going, some will have the right combination, some will not. The policies and incentives, some will be effective, some won’t be.”
Stabenow said creating tax incentives and making low-cost capital available is critical if American companies are going to compete internationally.
“We’re in a global economy where we are competing with countries like Germany, China (and) Korea, and the reality is that we don’t want to end up in a spot where we go from foreign dependence on oil to foreign dependence on solar, wind or advanced batteries,” she said. “So we need to find the right combination and give the time and support necessary for the private sector to be able to invest and move forward in these new clean energies.”
One incentive that has proved effective is the manufacturing tax credit that Stabenow authored. She said it includes a 30 percent tax credit for equipment and buildings for new clean energies. She said it’s important to offer the incentives because other countries do so. Some, like China, will even build a plant for manufacturers — though in doing so, they also require manufacturers to disclose their advanced technologies. This is a practice Stabenow spoke out against last fall.
She said the original tax subsidies for oil started almost 100 years ago, and they still continue today, as they are built into the tax code.
“With solar and wind, it’s been hit and miss every year,” she said. “We have to extend it year by year, so there’s not been long-term certainty.”
She said the United States also has come through a recession, and there have been a lot of things that have happened to cause difficulty for private companies.
In Case You Missed It…
Stabenow’s Position as Chairwoman of Agriculture Committee Good News for Michigan’s Economy
Debbie Stabenow: Michigan Agriculture’s Ace in the Hole
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.
Yesterday, the Michigan branch of a Super PAC funded by the Koch Brothers announced on Twitter that their New Year's Resolution was to "try our hardest to make sure Debbie Stabenow loses her Senate seat!"
I don't know about you, but I don't plan on sitting back and letting a right-wing Super PAC bankrolled by unlimited contributions from some of the country's biggest polluters buy Michigan's Senate seat next year.
But in order to do that, we need to hit our fundraising goals this quarter.
Click here to contribute now.
New Media Director