House considers 1-year Farm Bill extension

July 31, 2012 at 3:49 pm

With the 2012 Farm Bill stalled in the House of Representatives, and with drought devastating farms across the mid-west, the U.S. House of Representatives is considering a 1- year extension of the current farm bill, coupled with disaster relief for drought-stricken areas. The U.S. Senate has already passed its version of the 2012 Farm Bill, but progress has stalled in the House. The current farm bill will expire at the end of September.

Farm groups have come out against the idea of an extension, saying that it would only create more uncertainty for farmers. Bob Stallman, President of the American Farm Bureau, is quoted saying, “A one-year extension offers our farm and ranch families nothing in the way of long-term policy certainty. Farmers and ranchers always face decisions that carry very serious financial ramifications, such as planting a crop, buying land or building a herd, and we need clear and confident signals from our lawmakers.”  Senators have also said they would be opposed to an extension. Senator Debbie Stabenow, chair of the Senate agriculture committee said that, “If Congress does what Congress always does and kicks the can down the road with a short-term extension, there will be no reform, direct payments will continue, we’ll lose the opportunity for major deficit reduction and we’ll deliver a real blow to our economic recovery.” Although the extension would not include the proposed cuts to the SNAP program (aka, food stamps), advocates are also opposing the extension. They’d rather see a new farm bill with reforms and with SNAP funding maintained.

With all this opposition, it will be difficult for the House to pass the extension– but disaster relief and the September 30 expiration are looming.  Without a new farm bill, some programs will revert back to even older policies. And direct payments would be eliminated all together. Politics appear to be, again, getting in the way of progress. Without the will to compromise, the fate of farmers and the agriculture industry remain stuck in limbo and many programs will be threatened. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition sums it up succinctly:

What is being offered is a political ploy aimed at trying to pass a highly controversial bill with no debate on the way out of town for a month long summer recess and then cynically blaming the other body and the other party for not following suit.  This would rank as just more political gamesmanship were it not for the real drought and real lives and livelihoods they are playing with, and were it not for the fact that if this bill passes, the 2012 Farm Bill dies.  For a farm bill process which has been relatively speaking marked by bicameral and bipartisan cooperation, this latest move is revolting, and as a result, we hope the rank and file of both parties will therefore revolt.

Entry filed under: Agriculture Policy, Farm Policy. Tags: .

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