Rural Elections May Hinge of Farm Bill

With Congress preparing to return home in preparation for the 2012 election, some pollsters and political pundits believe that the House’s failure to pass the 2012 Farm Bill could have consequences on a number of elections in rural states.

In May, after months of debate and gridlock, the U.S. Senate finally passed their version of the 2012 Farm Bill. The House of Representatives, rather than voting on this bill, chose instead to draft their own version of the vital farm legislation. In July, the House Agriculture Committee passed a draft of the farm bill, leading some farmers to hope that progress was finally being made.

Fearing the political fallout of a contentious farm bill debate, however, House leadership moved to block a floor vote on the bill. Speaker of the House John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor refused to add the farm bill to the House’s summer schedule and attempted to delay a discharge petition that could have bypassed House leadership and forced the bill to the floor.

Rural Democrats are using this failure against their Republican opponents. In the race to fill North Dakota’s open Senate seat, for example, Democrat Heidi Heitkamp is criticizing the GOP’s focus on cutting food stamp funding, claiming that “[the farm bill] is something that should have been easy. Something that should have been done did not get done.” Rural representatives on both sides of the aisle are scrambling to emphasize to voters their efforts to pass a new farm bill, with Republicans and Democrats both claiming credit for the aborted discharge petition.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer