Farm Bill Reaches Campaign Trail

With the current farm bill only eight days away from expiring, Democrats in the House and Senate are using the GOP’s reluctance to pass new farm legislation as campaign fodder, hoping that rural resentment over the lack of progress on the farm bill can translate into vital votes on Election Day.

For the past several months, the farm bill has dominated rural news. Despite the best efforts of rural lawmakers and farm advocacy groups, Congress has failed to reach a compromise on the 2012 Farm Bill. While the Senate passed a version of the bill, the House rejected it, claiming that it spent too much money on food stamps and nutritional programs. The same House has delayed passage of their draft of the farm bill, preferring to wait until after election year scrutiny has died down.

The House’s failure has turned into prime campaign fodder in the upcoming election. Democrats challenging rural Republicans have seized on the House’s failure, hoping to gain disgruntled farm votes. In upstate New York, for example, Democrat Nate Shinagawa stated, “If there’s no action, we need new leadership in Congress that will stay until the job is done,” hoping to turn New York voters against incumbent Tom Reed.

In the Senate, Democrats are also using the farm bill to rally voters. Senator Debbie Stabenow, running for reelection this year, stated earlier this week, “The House of Representatives should be ashamed of themselves for leaving town without supporting rural America. Ten days until the farm bill expires and 15 million people in this country who rely on agriculture for their jobs are put in jeopardy.”

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer