Illinois Corn Growers Association President Paul Taylor released the following statement in response to the House of Representatives voting on the split version of the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (2013 Farm Bill):
“We are greatly disappointed that, today, we must take a position on Farm Bill legislation that fails to reflect the nature of how food and farms are interwoven in the lives of every American. We must take a position on a bill that has adulterated the bipartisan and bicameral nature of Farm Bill legislation that has historically demonstrated what is best about America and our Congress. We must take a position on legislation that epitomizes petty bickering and political gamesmanship.
“I will reiterate that Illinois Corn Growers Association opposed splitting the Farm Bill into two separate pieces of legislation. Now that House leadership has moved forward with what we continue to believe is an incredibly short-sighted and self-interested strategy, we must accept the decision.
“We oppose any effort that would bring permanent repeal of the 1949 law. The House’s inability to come to terms on this issue is the perfect example of why we must keep in place the 1949 law. The perceived threat of a return to the arcane law is what regularly forces action in the House. Removing that sense of urgency is akin to students voting to remove the authority of a principal. What uncomfortable alternative would remain in place to demand appropriate action? A regular review of farm programs keeps the legislation current, relevant and reflective of the changing needs of the American public.
Bringing some sort of farm legislation to conference committee with the Senate will provide a chance for this reform opportunity. The Senate’s version of Title I in the Farm Bill made budget-minded, reasonable reform in farm programs. Its plan is market-oriented and mindful of the needs of the American corn farmer. We strongly support Title I of the Senate’s Farm Bill and in order to support final legislation from conference committee we must see the Senate’s Title I plan reflected.
“Our position should not be confused with agreement to the policies set forth in House plan. We are dismayed at the dysfunctional process that has delivered all of us to this point of deeply flawed legislation. We must begrudgingly concede that there is no other way to move the farm bill to conference unless the House approves the option set before them today.
“We urge our Illinois Congressional delegation to approve the bill today so that we can support action by a conference committee to secure a five-year farm bill that we can support. It is in conference that we expect significant changes to be made so that we can strongly support the final outcome.
“Our ask for yes votes from the House today should in no way be construed as approval of the bill’s contents or the method by which it came to the floor.”
Meanwhile, Illinois Farm Bureau President Philip Nelson said, “Illinois Farm Bureau has worked with our congressional delegation and others for more than two years to get a five-year Farm Bill passed that will strengthen crop insurance, fine tune commodity and conservation programs and provide deficit reduction for taxpayers. IFB opposed H.R. 2642 because it would break up the Farm Bill coalition, eliminate the incentive to write future Farm Bills and threaten the future viability of crop insurance.
“Despite our opposition today, IFB will continue to play a constructive role in the Farm Bill debate. We urge House leadership to appoint conferees and encourage all parties to work in good faith to enact a mutually acceptable, bipartisan five-year Farm Bill that provides long-sought-after policy certainty for farmers and consumers alike.”
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, after the House Thursday said, “The bill passed by the House today is not a real Farm Bill and is an insult to rural America, which is why it’s strongly opposed by more than 500 farm, food and conservation groups. We will go to conference with the bipartisan, comprehensive Farm Bill that was passed in the Senate that not only reforms programs, supports families in need and creates agriculture jobs, but also saves billions more than the extremely flawed House bill.”