Partisan issues have kept Congress from taking on the 2012 Farm Bill and now time is running out. GOP leaders decided not to schedule it for floor action next week, which leaves Congress just four legislative days to consider the $957 billion bill before it adjourns for the August recess. The decision drew head scratches from some and anger from others including Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), House Agriculture Committee ranking member.
“There is no excuse not to bring the farm bill to the floor. We’ve wasted the last two weeks on political messaging bills that are going nowhere. If the House Republican Leadership were serious about creating jobs and growing our economy they would bring up this bill. There is no good reason to put one of our nation’s economic bright spots, the rural economy, at risk. The House Agriculture Committee passed a strong, bipartisan farm bill and we need to continue moving forward so we can resolve our differences with the Senate and get a bill to the President’s desk before the current bill expires September 30. I remain hopeful we’ll find a way to finish our work but time is running out,” Peterson said in his weekly newsletter.
Earlier this month, the House Agriculture Committee passed the bill with a 35-11 vote. The Senate has also passed its bill.
Drought conditions have taken a toll on a number of agricultural states including Iowa, where 59 percent of the state is considered to be experiencing severe drought conditions, according to Rep. Bruce Braley’s (D-Iowa) website. On Friday, all five members of Iowa’s congressional delegation signed a letter asking that the House take up the legislation.
“Iowa agriculture has been a bright spot in the economy,” Braley said in a statement. “The drought not only threatens the livelihood of countless Iowa farmers, it could have ripple effects for our economic recovery. If Congress allows the Farm Bill to expire on September 30th, it would only compound the problem. Much of the disaster assistance funding in the 2008 Farm Bill has already expired, leaving many farmers without a safety net this year. Farmers need certainty and confidence in the farm safety net they depend on, especially now. We need to do everything we can to get Iowa agriculture producers the help they need to get through this, and that starts with passing the Farm Bill.”