House Attempts Drought Relief

Having barely passed a drought relief bill (which failed to clear the Senate) and having failed to pass a new farm bill or a temporary farm bill extension, the House of Representatives is desperately scrambling to gather the votes to pass new farm legislation.

With farmers suffering from one of the worst droughts in recent history, Congress has gone to great lengths to discuss aiding the farm sector. Despite their talk, however, congressional leaders have been remarkably unwilling to seriously address drought relief.

While the Senate passed their version of the 2012 Farm Bill, the House has steadfastly refused to take up debate, with GOP leaders like John Boehner and Eric Cantor refusing to add the farm bill to the House agenda. That same House leadership passed a drought relief bill that stalled in the Senate.

With Congress failing to pass a new farm bill or drought relief, congressional leaders are spending the August recess reassessing their changes at passing new farm legislation. House Ag Committee chair Frank Lucas, for example, reiterated that his “priority remains to get a five-year farm bill on the books.” Senator Debbie Stabenow committed her Senate Agriculture Committee to working with the House to pass a farm bill that contains disaster relief and major safety nets for all food producers.

In addition, Congress is considering how to best help struggling consumers deal with a potential 15 percent increase in food prices next year. A collection of 156 lawmakers recently wrote to the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, asking her to relax EPA restrictions mandating that a certain percent of corn grown in the U.S. go to ethanol production.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer