Farm Groups: Congress Dropped Ball On Farm Bill

Farm BillSeveral agriculture groups have voiced their displeasure with Congress as adoption of the 2012 Farm Bill has stalled in the House of Representatives. Members of Congress have departed Washington, DC, with the presidential election recess underway, putting the passage of a 2012 Farm Bill in serious doubt.

From an official statement by American Soybean Association (ASA) President Steve Wellman: “ASA cannot overstate the disappointment in the House for ignoring the voices of American farmers. In no uncertain terms, Congress has let farmers down by not taking action on a new five-year farm bill.

“It is a sad statement on the perceived lack of importance of rural America in Washington when a bipartisan bill that provides certainty for farmers, livestock disaster assistance, nutrition programs, crop insurance improvements, conservation of our natural resources and reduces our Nation’s budget deficits is shelved in favor of scoring political points in an election year.”

From The Kansas Corn Growers Association members were disappointed to see Congress adjourn today without passing a Farm Bill.

Two members of the Kansas Congressional Delegation are on record as supporting a vote on the Farm Bill this year. Both Second District Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins and Third District Congressman Kevin Yoder signed a colleague letter in August asking House leadership to bring the Farm Bill to the floor.

“The first thing they want is rain,” Congresswoman Jenkins said. “That is above my pay grade. The second thing is they want is to insure that the safety program from the Federal Government remains intact and will be there so they can plant again next year.”

At Congresswoman Jenkins’ drought tour, Kansas Corn Executive Director Jere White explained the importance of the farm bill to farmers’ decisions. “It’s not just the farmer and their bank account, but it is their ability to get loans next year to put in a crop,” White said. “It is being able to work with their input suppliers and so it is a huge concern.”

Some expect the House to take up the Farm Bill after the election during the “Lame Duck” session. But without support from House Leadership, efforts to reauthorize a five-year bill are unlikely.

From “Frustration. Disappointment. Uncertainty. Those are the words that farmers and farm group leaders in the Dakotas and Minnesota are using to describe their reaction to the failed effort to pass a new farm bill before the Septenber 30 deadline, reports The Jamestown Sun.

Experts say most farm and nutrition programs covered by the farm bill won’t be affected until January 1. But many are concerned that deep cuts ultimately could be made to some farm bill programs.

The farm bill, the centerpiece of U.S. food and agricultural policy, is set to expire September 30. Congress has been working for months to approve a new one, but partisan differences seem to have scuttled the effort.

Last week, House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH, confirmed the farm bill would not be dealt with until after the election.

Failing to pass a farm bill by September 30 was “a missed opportunity,” Minnesota Farmers Union President Doug Peterson told The Jamestown Sun. “There’s a lot of disappointment in the countryside.” To farmers and others in agribusiness, the farm bill “provides a reasonable safety net.”

He notes that Congress didn’t pass a farm bill even though more than 90 farm organizations, including the National Farmers Union and American Farm Bureau Federation, rallied in support of new legislation in mid-September in Washington.

Failing to pass a new farm bill “is just not good for agriculture or businesses that are part of agriculture,” said Doyle Johannes, an Underwood, ND, farmer and president of the North Dakota Farm Bureau. “It leaves us not knowing where we’re at. It’s disappointing.”

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