7 Oct 2012 - House Republican Leadership - Get to Work!

September 30th has come and gone, and the Farm Bill of 2012 did not make it. That means that as of September 30th, the Farm Bill of 2008 expired and in some areas of pricing and regulations, we revert to the rules in the Farm Bill of 1949, a time far different in American agriculture than today.

Earlier this summer, I had a conversation with Collin Peterson, the ranking Minority member of the House Agriculture Committee, the Democrat from Minnesota and he said: “I’m concerned that we may not get a Farm Bill this year because of a non-farm issue.” He was absolutely right! It’s the ‘nutrition’ part of the Farm Bill, the most expensive part of the USDA budget that kept the Farm Bill from even making it to the floor in the House. The Senate did its work, the House Agriculture Committee did it’s work, but the House did not.

I do not understand why the Republican House leadership would not even bring it to the floor for debate and a vote. It probably wouldn’t have passed, but at least the differences would have been aired publicly and maybe, just maybe, a path to compromise could have been found. Now, farmers and ranchers go into a new crop year without knowing what new government policy might affect their planting and marketing decisions.

The Chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Debbie Stabenow from Michigan said: “It is unbelievable that we’re in this position now, where the Farm Bill has expired, bringing so much uncertainty to farmers, ranchers and small businesses. It’s absolutely unacceptable that the House Republican leadership couldn’t devote just one day to rural America and the 16-million jobs across the country that rely on agriculture.”

She said: “Families across the country cannot afford to see the price of milk skyrocket because the House Republican leadership didn’t get its work done. In the next few months, we transition to permanent law, a collection of policies from the 1930's and 1940's that are ill-suited to the way farmers work today.” Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack pretty much echoed what she had to say.

Will Congress get it done before the end of the year? Doubtful, not much happens in ‘lame-duck’ sessions. Yet it doesn’t mean we should not keep the pressure on the Republican leadership in the House to get the job done, if not this year, early in the next session of Congress, because farmers and ranchers, as well as consumers, need to know the direction we are going in farm policy.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.