Former Secretary Unsurprised by Farm Bill Flap

In a recent interview, the former Secretary of Agriculture under George H.W. Bush discussed the difficulty of passing a new farm bill and addressed partisan gridlock in Washington.

For the past several months, the farm bill has been at the center of rural news. Despite the efforts of the Senate and the House Agriculture Committee, the bill died before getting to the House floor. While Speaker of the House John Boehner claimed that he did not believe he had the votes to pass the bill, some congressional insiders believed he did not want to upset fiscal conservatives and the Tea Party by continuing food stamp funding.

In a recent interview, former Ag Secretary Clayton Yeutter discussed stalled bill. In particular, he discounted suggestions by some House members that the food stamp and the farm bill should be broken into separate bills. Political influence in Congress, Yeutter claimed, rests on congressional funding. Control of more funding can increase this influence. “So, certainly the agriculture committees would prefer not to give up these food programs because there’s a lot of money involved and a lot of political involvement and leverage involved there,” he stated.

Despite this congressional clout, Yeutter predicted that Congress would have too much to deal with in its lame duck session to pass a new farm bill, meaning that a new bill wouldn’t be in effect until 2013 at the earliest.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer