Senate leader pushes up farm bill considerationSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has introduced the Senate-passed version of the farm bill.

Senate Agriculture Committee chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., has said she plans to convene a committee mark-up of an updated farm bill as soon as possible. That would then be substituted for Reid’s placeholder bill, introduced Jan. 22.

Agriculture and fresh produce industry lobbyists were pleased with Reid’s action.

“This is an opportunity to get this bill moving quickly,” said Ray Gilmer, vice president of communications at the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association. “We hope that both the House and Senate can get onboard with agreeing on the budget numbers they want for the bill and get it to the president.”

“We are also encouraged to hear that Sen. Reid is making the farm bill one of several privileged, top priority legislative actions this year,” Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, Washington, D.C. said in a statement. “We are hopeful that Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow and the committee’s new ranking member, Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., will work quickly to build on the bipartisan work that was the hallmark of the Senate farm bill last year.”

Stallman encouraged House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to give the farm bill priority this year.