Despite repeated promises to the contrary, action on the 2012 Farm Bill has been abruptly postponed, causing grumbling in Congress and undermining farmers’ confidence in their representatives in Washington.
With April ending, Congress is finding itself in an increasingly precarious situation regarding the farm bill. With the current bill set to expire in five months, Congress needs to either renew the current bill, pass new legislation, or face an automatic imposition of 1940s farm legislation that would mandate billion of dollars in direct payments and massive limits on crop production.
The entire process, unfortunately, has been compromised by congressional politics and the upcoming presidential election. Typically non-controversial affairs, the current farm bill debate has become increasingly heated as politicians in both parties try to score political points for constituents back home.
Despite these difficulties, many farmers had hoped that progress was being made. Last week, the chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Debbie Stabenow, announced that action would be taken on the bill this week. However, late last night, congressional aides reported that the bill was being postponed.
The cause of the postponement, congressional insiders report, is unhappy peanut and rice lobbyists, who remains upset at the elimination of direct payment subsidies in exchange for crop insurance. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid apparently advised Stabenow that he could bring the bill to the floor, but that it would have a better chance of passing if she managed to keep the farm coalition together, requiring a postponement to reconcile unhappy growers.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer