The 2012 Farm Bill is facing last minute opposition from a bipartisan coalition of Representatives, Senators, and agricultural advocacy groups. The Farm Bill, renewed every five years, is one of the most important pieces of legislation passed by Congress. In addition to setting the broad parameters of American agricultural policy, the bill itself is a major part of the U.S. budget (the last Farm Bill exceeded $300 billion).
Typically a relatively non-controversial piece of legislation, the 2012 Farm Bill is facing a series of legislative hurdles this year, including a new sense of austerity sweeping Congress. In the wake of last summer’s debt ceiling negotiation, a congressional supercommittee has been charged with cutting almost $2 trillion from the federal budget. Much of this belt-tightening, it appears, will come at the expense of agricultural spending.
In addition to reduced federal generosity, the supercommittee’s legislative process is creating challenges for the Farm Bill. In order to avoid legislative wrangling, the supercommittee is empowered to bypass the typical legislative process, forcing bills to receive an up or down vote, eliminating the potential for amendments, filibusters, and riders.
It is this process that has led to significant opposition. According to Wisconsin Representative Ron Kind, “This is a horrible process. It keeps Congress and the whole nation in the dark.” Groups like Oxfam, an anti-hunger and anti-poverty advocacy movement, agree with Kind, stating, “Anyone who thinks a bill driven by industry lobbyists, written behind closed doors and negotiated in secret will be a good deal for taxpayers or the hungry should have their head examined.”
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer