Farm Bill Now?

Cindy Zimmerman

Last year the rallying cry of agricultural organizations for a “Farm Bill Now” fell on deaf ears in Congress, but this week’s actions by both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to pass a bill is leading to new hope that it might finally happen.

“This provides a great reason for optimism we will have a new long-term farm bill this year,” said American Farm Bureau Federation president Bob Stallman in a statement late last night after the House Ag Committee finally finished its work. “That belief is further supported by the fact that the bills are more striking in their similarities than in their differences.”

With about 100 amendments considered or withdrawn in the House Ag Committee markup on Wednesday, there was something for everyone to be pleased or disappointed with. National Corn Growers Association president Pam Johnson says they are pleased the process is moving forward but remain “extremely concerned with the Committee’s decision to adopt a fixed-target-price program that moves U.S. farm policy away from the market-oriented reforms that have made possible a robust rural economy. It is also disappointing the Committee failed to use this opportunity to ensure a Revenue Loss Coverage program that is a genuine risk management option for producers.” The American Soybean Association expressed similar concerns.

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) was pleased that the House version rejected an amendment to the Dairy Support Act. “The committee’s decision to once again reject an amendment by Reps. Bob Goodlatte and David Scott that would have undermined the House Farm Bill’s dairy safety net is gratifying to the thousands of dairy farmers across the country who support the DSA,” said NMPF president and CEO Jerry Kozak.

For the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), portions of the House farm bill included priorities important to cattlemen and women such as permanent disaster programs along with the elimination of the livestock title, maintaining of conservation programs and a strong research title.

An amendment supported by the National Pork Producers Council was adopted in the House bill to prevent the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) from doing any further work on the rulemaking that resulted from the 2008 Farm Bill, and the National Fisheries Institute is happy about an amendment repealing the duplicative USDA catfish inspection program.

The Senate bill is expected to go to the floor next week while the House bill is slated for next month.

Ag Groups, Farm Bill