Peterson Talks Farm Bill

In a recent interview, Minnesota Democrat Collin Peterson, the ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, addressed the challenges facing the House and the rural community due to the failure of Congress to pass a new farm bill.

For the past several months, Congress has been intractably stalled on the issue of the farm bill. While the Senate and the House Agriculture Committee may have passed competing versions of the bill, House leadership refused to hold a vote on either bill. Now, with fiscal cliff negotiations consuming what little focus Congress has left in the waning days of the lame duck session, a new five-year farm bill seems unlikely at the moment.

According to Peterson, the partisan rancor is as bad as it’s been in 20 years. “I’ve never seen anything like this other than 1996 when we had a big budget problem,” Peterson said. “[House Speaker Newt] Gingrich was blaming [President Bill] Clinton for raising taxes and not cutting spending and so forth. That shows you what happens when you get hijacked by ideologues. We’re in that kind of situation again.”

In addition, Peterson stated that the only way a new farm bill was going to pass before 2013 was if it was combined with fiscal cliff legislation, shifting control of farm policy away from rural legislators in the Agriculture Committee to Speaker Boehner and President Obama, a shift that worries Peterson.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer