Ag groups assail Congress on farm bill extension

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While pleased that the “fiscal cliff” package approved by Congress on New Year’s Day restored the $5 million exemption level for the estate tax, much work remains on addressing the spending side of the ledger, according to a American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) news release. “Without progress on the spending side, we are on a one-way road to fiscal disaster,” said Bob Stallman, AFBF president.

Unable to pass a new 2012 Farm Bill because of disagreement over the level of government spending on food stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and crop insurance, lawmakers gave the nod instead to extending certain measures of the 2008 Farm Bill.

Extension of the 2008 farm bill, however, is little more than a stop-gap measure, according to Stallman. “We are disappointed that Congress was unable or unwilling to roll a comprehensive five-year farm bill proposal into the fiscal cliff package and we will continue to insist on the kind of reforms that were included in the proposals approved by the Senate and the House Agriculture Committees during the 112th Congress.”

Stallman also expressed the farm group’s desire that Congress eventually provides U.S. farmers as well as all Americans “with the leadership needed to put our nation on a path toward fiscal responsibility and agricultural innovation and prosperity.”

The nation’s corn growers also expressed disappointment in Congress over its failure to pass a new 2012 Farm Bill. “Once again Congress’ failure to act pushes agriculture aside hampering farmers’ ability to make sound business decisions for the next five years, said Pam Johnson, president National Corn Growers Association (NCGA). “The NCGA is tired of the endless excuses and lack of accountability. The system is clearly broken.”

National Farmers Union (NFU) issued the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 8, the Tax Relief Extension Act, commonly referred to as the “fiscal cliff” bill, which included a farm bill extension:

“Once again, Congress has left rural America out in the cold. An extension represents a short-sighted, temporary fix that ultimately provides inadequate solutions that will leave our farmers and ranchers crippled by uncertainty,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “The legislation that passed fails to provide disaster aid for farmers or necessary support for our dairy industry, yet continues unjustifiable direct payments.”

“The bill also does not provide mandatory funding for the energy title, specialty crops and organic provisions, and new important programs for beginning farmers and ranchers,” Johnson said. “Farmers, ranchers, rural communities and all Americans deserve better and would have been better served with a new five-year farm bill.

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TN  |  January, 03, 2013 at 08:45 AM

A good Farm Bill would be one that farmers say " well.......... OK" not one that you are in much disappointment if you don't get it or jumping for joy if it is passed. We do not need government creating a economic bubble..

Hamilton, OH  |  January, 03, 2013 at 09:14 AM

Let me get this right. . . .farmers are the ones that provide us with steak, pork chops, cereal, --- uh food. So why would we want to waste money on them? We can live without food can't we??

Kelly Walen    
Red Bluff Ca.  |  January, 03, 2013 at 09:19 AM

I hope this will give them time to consider denying Monsanto's riders tacked on to it exempting him and his company's products from EPA studies and oversight. That monster needs to be reined in before he dust bowls the nation's lands and ruins any more small family farmers! My house hold has went completely GMO free, including my pets and livestock. They miss the corn products but oh well.

January, 03, 2013 at 10:45 AM

The dairy industry is better off in a crippled limbo state this year than bled to death by a bill being imposed by dairy processors. These corporate and cooperative giants do not represent the dairy farmers. We'd be better off had they just let the thing expire.

MN  |  January, 03, 2013 at 06:06 PM

As a dairy producer I agree with Jeff. The dairy provisions in the new bill are terrible. The system is terribly broken when farmers can't make production decisions until there dear leaders in DC have spoken. End the subsidies, fix trade policy, and work on a food security bill. Policy out of DC has only served to continue to consolidate food production into fewer and fewer hands.

Ed & Emma    
MA  |  January, 04, 2013 at 05:28 AM

Lynette....we "Like" you!!

kansas  |  January, 04, 2013 at 07:25 PM

It's all about SNAP, and can anyone tell me why Food Stamps, or WIC or School Lunches, are part of the USDA at all? If it weren't for SNAP and kin, the farm bill would have seen action long ago. USDA hasn't been focused on farming, other than administrating various subsidies that land in the laps of exporters, insurance companies and processors, for decades. It's time to end the USDA and it's bureaucratic manipulations and move to free enterprise and free markets. Until we do, ranchers and farmers are just puppets in a political show run for the benefit of pols' crony capitalist campaign donors.

SD  |  January, 23, 2013 at 07:43 PM

Isn't SNAP and other consumer benefit programs in the farm bill because it would have been (at the time those programs started) nearly impossible to get a farm bill passed? The farm population has dwindled right along with the growth of mechanization/ability of few people to take care of many acres of diversified crops Urban legislators have no interest in farmers, EXCEPT that a Farm Bill is a convenient place to hide the costs of such welfare programs.

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