The Truth About the Farm Bill
Today, President Obama called out VP candidate Paul Ryan over the Republican’s block of the Farm Bill.
After doing a bit of research, I think the president has a case. Paul Ryan is a leader of his party and as such should take some of the responsibility for their continued failure to govern.
NY Farm Bureau concerned about GOP holdup of Farm Bill
U.S. House Republicans have gotten themselves in a tight spot with the 2012 Farm Bill and they can count the New York Farm Bureau among those who are concerned. The Farm Bill is reauthorized about every five years. The Senate has already passed its [bipartisan 64-35] 2012 Bill. The House Agriculture committee also passed a version of the farm bill. But Republican leaders in the House have not been willing to bring it to the floor.
Instead, they’ve been pushing for a one-year extension of the current Farm Bill. Julie Grant reports about the latest politicking, and what it might mean for New York farmers.
Democratic Congressman Bill Owens of Plattsburgh, New York, is a member of the House Agriculture Committee. The 2012 Farm Bill passed the committee by a bipartisan vote. However, Owens says that Republican leaders won’t allow the full House to consider it.
‘I’m very disappointed. I think that this is really the worst kind of partisan politics that one could imagine,’ said Owens. According to him, the problem is bad because House Republicans won’t consider the Farm Bill if they need Democratic votes to pass it. He said, ‘The Republicans have taken the position that they would not bring the five-year Farm Bill, which was passed out of the Ag Committee, to the floor because they couldn’t pass it with only Republican votes. So in other words, even though it came out of the Ag Committee on a bipartisan basis, they didn’t want it to pass the House on a bipartisan basis.’
More from the National Young Farmers’ Coalition
What’s the Hold Up with the Farm Bill
Here is a quick recap to bring you up to speed:
The Senate passed its farm bill version back in June – while there were some letdowns, it was overall a good bill. It contained some cuts to conservation programs, but it included some important amendments for beginning farmers, and also streamlined crop insurance subsidy programs. You can read more about it in this analysis by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), of which NYFC is a member.
The next step, though, is for the House to pass its own version, and then for the two groups to reconcile them. Given the increasingly polarized nature of Washington, it has been frustrating but not surprising that the House has been dragging its feet on approving a bill. While the House Agriculture Committee has passed a draft bill, it has been kept from reaching the House floor.
At the tail end of July, the House leadership instead tried to push forward a one-year extension and disaster-relief bill that would postpone the creation of a real farm bill until 2013. In the meantime it would have left the current commodity and crop insurance subsidy programs and the SNAP program (food stamps) without significant change from the 2008 Farm Bill, and would have cut farm bill conservation programs by $761 million. Frighteningly, it would also have eliminated all of the farm bill-funded rural economic development, renewable energy, organic agriculture, local food, and beginning and historically underserved farmer programs for the period of the extension. NYFC, along with NSAC, publicly stood against this political ploy. Just days later, under pressure from a wide variety of groups, the House leadership pulled the extension proposal.
Finally, late last week the House passed a stand-alone disaster-relief bill, intended again to address the most pressing issue (drought) while putting off discussion of the rest of the bill. The Senate bill, it should be noted, includes disaster-relief in it, and a House bill could have as well. At this point the two chambers have been at loggerheads as the House calls on the Senate to pass a disaster-relief bill and the Senate calls on the House to pass a comprehensive farm bill that would also include disaster-relief.
Congress has just begun a five week recess, giving them only a few weeks back in Washington before reaching the September 30th deadline for reauthorization of the farm bill. The National Young Farmers’ Coalition continues to support a comprehensive reauthorization of the bill, and not an extension that will most likely cut valuable programs and at best defer important decisions that need to be made today.
and finally from Politico
Never before in modern times has a farm bill reported from the House Agriculture Committee been so blocked. POLITICO looked back at 50 years of farm bills and found nothing like this. There have been long debates, often torturous negotiations … but no House farm bill, once out of committee, has been kept off the floor while its deadline passes.
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No, the real reason for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to delay the farm bill is not because there will be better answers after the election. It’s because he doesn’t like the answers he sees before.
The farm bill came out of the House Agriculture Committee on a strong bipartisan 35-11 vote July 12. Nearly a year after the August debt accords — and eight months after the November collapse of the deficit supercommittee — it is the closest this Congress has come to enacting real deficit reduction from mandatory spending.
But it’s not perfect, and Boehner’s Republicans are split regionally and ideologically, with the right demanding still greater savings and a more free-market approach to agriculture policy.
Given Democratic concerns over the depth of the food stamp cuts already made, Boehner says there are not 218 votes for passage. Rather than wrestle with this problem, it’s easier to run out the clock with symbolic anti-red tape, anti-tax votes on which the GOP is more united.