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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Lon Truly
12/7/2012 | 7:24 AM CST
The bottom line is that government beginning farmer insurance or other schemes do not work very well as for all practical purposes the only beginning farmers are the poor sons of the multimillion dollar net worth farmer fathers. And we all know that for all practical purposes, that the poor sons of the poor farmers are never able to out bid the poor sons of the wealthy farmers. So what is the point of the government spending billions subsidizing the poor sons of wealthy farmers expand that families holdings via some stupid government beginning farmer scheme.
Lon Truly
12/7/2012 | 7:22 AM CST
Congress's mindless obsession with targeting the wealthiest farmers with nearly limitless multimillion dollar investment/profit guarantees is one of the most disruptive financial forces to ever hit rural America. Smaller farmers given miniscle government benefits are stamped irrelevant by insane government insurance programs that destroy their ability to compete in any way with the umbrella of overwhelming superior investment/profit guarantees larded on the largest operations and are being rapidly driven from rural America. If smaller farmers are to have any chance of competing in America, government must be stopped from this mindless obsession of awarding the richest with the largest income/investment guaranteeing programs
Lon Truly
12/7/2012 | 7:21 AM CST
The clueless and or corrupt congress ever fixated on re-election has chosen to be oblivious to the economic carnage it is creating with the unfair and inequitable crop insurance schemes. It should be obvious to everyone that targeting the largest and most profitable farm businesses with the largest investment and income guarantees grants these operations with an overwhelmingly competitive edge in a highly competitive business. It should be noted that many of these operations have little or no land costs and that government has no business guaranteeing ever increasing land values with insurance schemes that cover land costs. It should also be obvious that smaller farm operations targeted with no or minimal government benefits have little or no chance of competing in such an economic environment. Considering the stratospheric levels to which land values have escalated it should be obvious to all that extreme government income and investment guarantees are capitalized into land values and that government has no business targeting the wealthiest with multimillion dollar business benefits and billions in insurance subsidies.
W Lee Deutsche
12/6/2012 | 10:16 AM CST
My father used to say "Lead,Follow or Get the Hell out of the Way". His words are applicable to the current status of the farm bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. Does the House of Representatives have any leadership?