In a last ditch effort to pass a new, five-year farm bill (before the September expiration of the temporary 2007 bill), rural politicians are reaching out to their urban colleagues, hoping that the fraying alliance that has held together previous farm bills can be maintained long enough to pass a new series of vital agricultural legislation.
For the past year, the farm bill has remained stalled in Congress. While the Senate has passed several versions of the legislation (with both Democratic and Republican support), these bills have died in the House of Representatives, where Republican insistence on massive cuts to federal nutritional funding has derailed any bipartisan support.
While some Senators, particularly Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, have criticized the House GOP (focusing on their refusal to name negotiators to coordinate the competing House and Senate bills), some Senators are hoping to put pressure on their urban colleagues in the House to support the farm bill.
North Dakota Senator John Hoeven, for example, recently stated, “People who come from ag states like North Dakota obviously are totally on board,” Hoeven told the group. “We need to talk to voters who are not necessarily aggies.”
Despite these efforts, however, it is unlikely that a rural-urban coalition can long survive if the House bill, which separates food stamps and nutritional aid from agricultural legislation, passes.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer