Farmers Fired Up Over Farm Bill Hold

The House Speaker’s announcement of suspended work on Farm Bill 2012 leave farmers uncertain about the future of their operations.

by Dani Yokhna
Congressmen will walk out of September's session without addressing the Farm Bill, which expires at the end of the month. Photo courtesy iStockphoto/Thinkstock (
Courtesy iStockphoto/Thinkstock
Congressmen will walk out of September’s session without addressing the Farm Bill, which expires at the end of the month.

Much to the dismay of small-scale farmers across the U.S., House Speaker John Boehner announced on Sept. 20, 2012, that Farm Bill 2012 discussions will be tabled until after Election Day. Concerns over cuts to programs supporting beginning and sustainable farmers as well as insecurity resulting from the summer’s widespread drought keep farmers on edge about how this will affect their farm operations.

“On the heels of one of the most devastating disasters our country has seen in many years, the agricultural community needs certainty here and now, not in six weeks’ time,” says Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, an organization representing family farmers and ranchers. “Allowing Congress to pack up and leave town once again without taking up a Farm Bill is an irresponsible travesty.”

It is unclear if the lame duck session of Congress will address a new Farm Bill or a modified extension of the current Farm Bill, but according to a blog post from the grassroots ag-advocacy group National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, neither the Senate-passed or House Committee-passed bill will meet the needs of America’s farmers.

“Renewals of important Farm Bill programs for economic growth and equity, new and beginning farmers, food-system and market development, and conservation and renewable energy need to be included.  Reforms to farm subsidy programs are desperately needed,” the NSAC posted on Sept. 18, 2012.

A small coalition of congressmen led by Rep. Rick Berg, (R-N.D.) will continue to fight for Farm Bill passage until the House closes shop today, Sept. 21, 2012.

“House Leadership has handled this entire Farm Bill situation poorly since it should have happened months ago,” Berg said in a statement released Thursday. “After very frank and pointed conversations with leadership and demonstrations of strength from our bipartisan coalition over the past several weeks, the pressure to act on a long-term Farm Bill is growing.  On the heels of this announcement, our bipartisan coalition will continue to keep up the pressure to demand that leadership do the right thing and bring the Farm Bill to the floor—we won’t stop until this happens.”

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