More Farm Bill Follies: Boehner & Company

This just in from The Rural Blog: House leaders look for ways to help farm-district members after blocking floor vote on Farm Bill

“Having blocked the pending five-year Farm Bill, House Republican leaders now appear to be racing ahead of their own Agriculture Committee to come up with some alternative to protect the party’s farm state candidates during the upcoming August recess,” David Rogers reports for Politico. “Disaster aid for livestock producers hard hit by the current drought was one option under discussion Tuesday, as well as a one-year extension of the current law due to expire Sept. 30.”

“Farmers are wondering why the stall on that and what the Farm Bill will offer,” said House Speaker John Boehner, reflecting the concerns of Republicans from agricultural districts. “We understand the emergency that exists out in rural America and we’re concerned about addressing it as quickly as possible.” Boehner said he was working with Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, but Lucas did not appear to be fully in the loop.

“I’d like some clarification of what I’m picking up on the grapevine,” Lucas told Rogers, who writes: “Asked if he was preparing a new package, the Oklahoma Republican answered with some exasperation: ‘I’m not writing a package at this moment. I’m just trying to figure out what is going on for sure.'”

“Given the serious drought, there’s little question that the pressure from farm state lawmakers is growing,” Rogers reports. “And Boehner, who spent his early years on the House Agriculture Committee, seems eager to respond. Livestock producers are most vulnerable because of the loss of good grazing lands as well as higher prices for feed. The House and Senate farm bills promise disaster aid for the current year, but without action, these producers are left without the protection enjoyed by field crops, for example, covered by crop insurance. Two leadership aides said a full-year extension of the current farm program was being discussed. But this was news to the Senate Democratic leadership and could be a perilous path given the fact that it would mean extending the current system of direct cash payments to producers at a cost of close to $5 billion a year.” Read more here.

Reprinted with permission from The Rural Blog.  Article written by Al Cross for The Rural Blog. Al Cross, former Courier-Journal political writer, is director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues and The Rural Blog.

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