Groups mount pressure on Congress to pass 2012 Farm Bill

August 31, 2012 at 10:08 am

Agri-Pulse interviewed House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Oklahoma) this week on the prospects of Congress passing a new farm bill before the current bill expires at the end of September. Lucas seems relatively optimistic about the possibility of passing the farm bill. When asked if it will happen this year, his response was that even if he had from “midnight to sunrise” he’d try to get it done.

In the meantime, groups have coalesced to put pressure on Congress to move forward. Farm Bill Now is a coalition of agriculture groups who have come together– despite “strong and varied policy priorities”– to pass the farm bill this year. The over 50 organizations that have signed on range from individual commodity associations, conservation groups, cooperatives, and even financing and cooperative groups. On Tuesday, Farm Bill Now held a press conference in Boone, Iowa at the Farm Progress Show, where representatives of the coalition spoke to the needs of farmers and the impact of the drought, but also connecting the Farm Bill to the broader economy:

“According to the USDA, one in every twelve jobs is directly tied back to the farm…. This figure provides us with the reality of the broad scope of this legislation and how it impacts every single American.”

Also this week, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, along with 43 organisations in the Campaign for a Renewed Rural Development, sent a letter urging Congress to keep rural development as a priority in the 2012 Farm Bill. If the current bill expires and the 2008 bill is extended, funding for rural development, renewable energy, and beginning farmer and rancher programs would be discontinued.

Inaction on the Farm Bill is causing uncertainty for agriculture industry, rural development, and for the economy and consumers as a whole. Ultimately, it is a matter of politics and process. As Chairman Lucas said in the Agri-Pulse interview, what is needed is an “open, straightforward process.” However, with only 8 days in September to act, Chairman Lucas and his colleagues in Congress will have to make a concerted effort to overcome the politics of this issue to pass a new bill.




Entry filed under: Agriculture Policy, Economic Development, Economy, Farm Lending, Farm Policy, Healthy Foods. Tags: , , .

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