Ag Policy Blog

Farm Groups Push Again for Farm Bill

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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Leaders from several farm groups on Wednesday met with House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., to talk about the importance of finishing the farm bill before Congress adjourns.

The House, incidentally, is out today because House members don't have anything to do. On Wednesday, lawmakers were in session and held one roll-call vote in the morning before adjourning.

Hoyer, of course, has little say in the process at this point. The farm bill and its prospects are tied up with the the fiscal cliff talks. A major component of which will be exactly where to draw the line on cuts for nutrition. The Senate farm bill has $4.5 billion in cuts. The House Ag Committee bill pushed those to $16 billion, but the Republican Budget plan passed last year sought $122 billion. The Obama administration opposed such steep cuts, as well as the way the GOP wants to restructure the program.

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In a news release Wednesday, the American Soybean Association stated its president and vice president were joined by leaders from the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Milk Producers Federation, National Corn Growers Association and the National Association of Wheat Growers in a meeting Hoyer .

"We appreciate the opportunity to meet with Minority Whip Hoyer and his staff today (Wed). It is imperative that the Minority Whip and all of the House leadership understand the importance of passing a new farm bill to provide certainty for farmers heading into 2013. The bill represents a good-faith investment in an agriculture industry that has been one of the bright spots in the American economy," said ASA President Steve Wellman, a farmer from Syracuse, Neb., who grows soybeans, corn, wheat, alfalfa and raises cattle. "It is critical that we sustain that progress, and ASA and our colleagues in the farm community are committed to working together to do so. We have come to the bargaining table with concrete spending reductions, and remain the only industry that has done so. We are, as we have been, open to compromise, provided that the end product is a new, five-year farm bill that enables America’s farmers to continue producing the safest and most abundant food supply in the world."

Yet, as the ASA news release noted, the farm bill remains tied up in negotiations over the fiscal cliff.

Ideally, a little more information on the state of the farm bill may dribble out today as House Ag Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and Senate Ag Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., meet in a forum hosted by a fellow ag media organization. While Lucas, Stabenow and their respective ranking members have been meeting from time to time over the past week, including a Tuesday discussion, virtually no concrete information has risen indicating changes in either the House or Senate versions of the farm bill.

To quote an oft-used phrase from the 2007-08 farm bill talks, we're making progress.

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