Disaster Bill Threatens Farm Bill

The American Farm Bureau is pleading with House and Senate leaders to not let work on a proposed disaster relief bill interfere with the 2012 Farm Bill, which expires at the end of the month.

For the past several months, the farm bill has remained stalled in Congress, unable to pass both houses despite the urgings of farmers and farm advocacy organizations. While the Senate passed a draft of the farm bill in May, the House appears unlikely to agree to the Senate’s moderate spending cuts, preferring, instead, to embrace massive cuts to nutritional funding. A draft of the farm bill passed the House Agriculture Committee in July, but has been delayed by House leadership for want of votes.

The farm bill debate is occurring in the middle of one of the worst natural disasters in recent agricultural history. For the past several months, farmers across the country have been plagued by extreme drought conditions that have crippled agricultural production. Sensing the political inexpediency of doing nothing while crops across the nation wither in their fields, some Senators and Representatives have proposed a disaster relief bill to help aid struggling farmers.

While farm groups do not necessarily oppose disaster relief, many suspect that congressional efforts are little more than a smokescreen to mask their inactivity on the farm bill. In a letter to Senate leadership, the Farm Bureau wrote, “This is something our groups do not support. We strongly urge you to refrain from this as we fear that passage of [such] a bill could result in further delays in completing a full five-year farm bill.”

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer