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Congress spent the New Year’s holiday working and actually managed to pass a “fiscal cliff” bill that even addressed agriculture – but no one seems to be very grateful for all of our lawmakers’ hard work and sacrifice except the lawmakers themselves.
The nine month extension of the current farm bill, which actually expired months ago, is being pretty universally panned by agricultural interests. It was the looming specter of $8 a gallon milk that motivated the Senate to include a farm bill extension in the package but National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jerry Kozak called it “a devastating blow” to the nation’s dairy farmers. “After months of inaction, the plan that passed overnight as part of the fiscal cliff package amounts to shoving farmers over the dairy cliff without providing any safety net below,” said Kozak. “These stop-gap efforts don’t even qualify as kicking the can down the road. It’s little more than a New Year’s Day, hair-of-the-dog stab at temporarily putting off decisions that should have been made in 2012 about how to move farm policy forward, not offer more of the same.”
I talked to NMPF Senior VP of Communications Chris Galen about their concerns and how they intend to address them in the 113th Congress. Interview with Chris Galen
National Corn Growers Association President Pam Johnson of Iowa says they are “tired of the endless excuses and lack of accountability” by Congress in failing to address a five year 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 Johnson. “The system is clearly broken.”
I got to chat with Pam about her personal feelings and NCGA’s positions on the farm bill extension and her hopefulness that the new year will bring a new attitude in Congress. Interview with Pam Johnson
American Farm Bureau Federation president Bob Stallman called the extension “little more than a stop-gap measure” and said they are “disappointed that Congress was unable or unwilling to roll a comprehensive five-year farm bill proposal into the fiscal cliff package. Now, it will be up to the new 113th Congress to put a new farm bill in place.” National Farmers Union president Roger Johnson was more critical, calling the extension “a short sighted, temporary fix that ultimately provides inadequate solutions that will leave our farmers and ranchers crippled by uncertainty.”
Looking for a brighter side, American Soybean Association (ASA) President Danny Murphy of Mississippi said they are disappointed in Congress but noted that the extension of the 2008 Farm Bill “allows important foreign market development, disaster assistance, and farm safety net programs to continue.”
The nine-month extension means that Congress can now ignore the farm bill until at least September, then allow it to expire, then wait until the end of the year again and pass another extension – or hopefully actually get a new bill passed at the very last possible moment or later.