Posted September 10, 2013

 
At a recent town-hall meeting, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) indicated that the House debate over action in Syria will overshadow other legislative work, but that Congress will finish a new farm bill before the end of the year, according to a National Journal article, available here.
 
Lucas began the town-hall meeting by explaining why Congress has yet to pass a farm bill.  He acknowledged that not “enough of his Republican colleagues voted for a comprehensive bill in June” which forced “the House leadership to bring up a farm-program-only bill that passed with only Republican votes in July.”  The House now plans to vote on a nutrition bill in September before appointing conferees to meet with their counterparts in the Senate.  Lucas said, “It shouldn’t be this hard to pass a farm bill that makes sure we have food.”  The Senate passed a comprehensive farm bill in June. 
 
The current farm bill will expire on September 30, as the new fiscal year for the federal government begins on October 1.  Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) said that passage of a farm bill is his priority, according to an article by the Minot Daily News, available here.  Hoeven will serve as on the conference committee, to find a consensus on the legislation, but before conferencing can begin, the House must pass its bill. 
 
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) voiced her frustration over the farm bill during a press conference with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Neil Young, a musician and family farm advocate, according to a US News article, available here.  Stabenow said: “It’s time to stop kicking the can down the road and leaving rural America and 16 million jobs hanging in uncertainty.  The Senate has agreed to go to conference and appoint conferees, and whenever the House decides to do the same we can more forward and finish the farm bill.”
 
Some have suggested another extension of the current farm bill, but Stabenow says she will not support an extension.  The press conference took place during a rally hosted by the National Farmers Union, according to an article by Roll Call, available here.  Stabenow said, “We will not see an extension passed, and if we did, we’d be leaving livestock producers in a lurch, and a whole lot of other people in a lurch.”
 
For more information on farm bills, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s Farm Bills page.  Another excellent resource for daily updates on the farm bill is Farmpolicy.com.
 
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