Wasn’t there a time in America when the good people who represent us in Congress could lay aside political differences and do serious public policy when the nation faced emergency? Wouldn’t you say that the worst U.S. drought since the 1950s might be just such an emergency?
Leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives think differently. The latest proposal is to lay aside the Senate Farm Bill (passed) and the House Farm Bill (through committee) and just extend the current law. Here’s what National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said today on the subject:
“National Farmers Union stands opposed to the one-year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill. We would support an extension only if the next step is to conference a comprehensive five-year farm bill before the Sept. 30 expiration date.
“An extension that ignores the goal of a five-year bill merely kicks the can down the road, as we are faced with uncertainty about next year’s budget. A one-year extension would also necessitate starting the farm bill drafting process over in the new Congress in January. House leadership needs to stop playing political games and show it values rural America, and pass a farm bill now.
“The conservation title is one of the few titles that, since last December, most stakeholders have agreed on. It provides the needed programs for good conservation practices. However, the House one-year extension cuts the one title that had the most agreement among all parties. It also cuts mandatory funding from vital beginning farmer and rancher, renewable energy and direct-to-consumer marketing programs.
“As the drought wreaks havoc across the nation, our farmers and livestock producers are looking for relief and certainty. It is critical that permanent disaster programs be approved retroactively to cover losses incurred in 2012. Our farmers and ranchers are facing a rough harvest and barren pastures; further delays will have a huge impact on the U.S. agriculture industry.
“We commend the Senate Ag Committee, and the entire Senate, for taking swift action on the farm bill and now look to the House to follow suit. The clock is ticking, and this extension is just wasting time that could be spent on passing a bipartisan, forward-looking bill before the Sept. 30 deadline.”