Ranchers Losing Faith in Congress

With the 2012 drought showing no signs of relenting and with farmers and ranchers across the country already suffering more than $8 billion in losses, many agricultural producers are reporting that their faith in their representatives in Washington is at an all-time low.

For the past several months, Congress has delayed passing a new farm bill. While politicians have been long on pro-agricultural rhetoric, they have been short on action, stunning Americans with their unwillingness to pass new farm legislation.

While the U.S. Senate managed to pass a new farm bill, after months of inactivity, the House of Representatives has not been as diligent. The House Agriculture Committee’s passage of a farm bill draft on July 11 was met with silence by the House leadership. The House did pass a drought relief bill before they left on a five-week recess, but that bill was blocked in the Senate.

With Congress out of session until September, many farmers and ranchers are beginning to realize that they can expect virtually no government aid for the next month. While the White House has pledged its limited resources to help struggling farmers, without a major spending bill in Congress, White House measures will remain stopgap at best.

With feed crops across the country withering in the face of intense heat, and with many farmers unable to afford to buy feed in large enough quantities to support herds through the rest of the summer, many ranchers have been forced to sell off their livestock, a move that could have a serious impact on meat prices for months, if not years, to come.

In the face of these burdens, many farmers are reporting disgust with political gridlock in Washington. “For Congress to put this off for five weeks until they come back is really, really difficult to understand,” said the vice president of the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer