Regional, political differences make passage of a new Farm Bill this year unlikely
The prospects for passing a new Fram Bill have dimmed this month, as regional divisions and partisanconflictover the federal budget have complicated negotiations, several members of Congress said while in their districts during the Easter recess.
“Southern farm interests and their champions on Capitol Hill put the rest of U.S. agriculture on notice at the end of last week that they won’t play second fiddle to the Midwest,” Agri-Pulse reports. “The lack of consensus among commodity groups on safety-net provisions” in the bill is the fault of corn and soybean interests, National Cotton Council CEO Mark Lange told cotton growers in Texas: “As long as the grains and oilseeds are trying to steal several hundreds of millions of dollars annually in support from rice, peanuts and cotton, we’re not going to speak with a single voice” on the bill, Lange told the Plains Cotton Growers in Lubbock.
Lange spoke on the same day that Southern farmers said at a House Agriculture Committee hearing in Jonesboro, Ark., “to reject a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to risk management when it drafts the next farm bill,” reports Agri-Pulse. (The weekly newsletter is subscription-only, but it offers a four-week trial subscription here.)
Also at the cotton growers’ meeting, Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas said Congress faces “a lot of struggles with the resources we’ll have available to write the farm bill. We also have a political environment that will make it difficult to do a stand-alone bill.” So Reports David Bennett of Delta Farm Press, noting that Conaway said no new bill passes before the end of September, when the current one is set to expire, the current one will be extended “probably for a year.”
Bennett also notes that Rep. Bill Owens of New York said a “Farm Bill is not expected to pass this year because of the November election and typical pace of government in Washington,” as reported by Denise Raymo of the Press Republican in Plattsburgh, N.Y. “Owens said both House Ag Committee Chair Frank Lucas and Senate Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson have worked hard to bring the Farm Bill in as a logical spending plan, but it likely won’t go anywhere this year.”
Keith Good of the FarmPolicy blog notes a report from Carl Burnett Jr. of the Eagle-Gazette in Lancaster, Ohio: “Don’t expect anything major to be decided in Congress before the November election. That’s a message U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers presented to a group of farmers Thursday.”
Reprinted with permission from The Rural Blog. Article written by Al Cross Al is a former Courier-Journal political writer, currently director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues and The Rural Blog.