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DC Farm Bill Frustration Mounting

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Much of what makes news in Washington is connected to creating further delays in writing a new farm bill. One example right now is the lack of a budget deal to keep the government open, and add immigration and border wall disputes to the mix as well. Farm bills are never easy to write, and some have taken a couple of years or more to enact. This is also an election year, never an easy time to do any legislating.

Senate ag committee member Chuck Grassley from Iowa was asked how you write a farm bill with no budget certainty, especially if current funding is simply extended another few weeks.

“I sense exactly what you’re saying from something I picked up, maybe directly or indirectly from Senator Roberts last week, that it’s kind of frustrating,” Grassley responded. “That’s about all I can say on that issues at this point.”

Grassley said in December a farm bill was already three months late due to work on the tax bill, and a new farm bill needed to be done in the first half of this year, so producers could plan for the 2019 crop year. Grassley said at the time, “we can’t horse around any longer.” He continued that theme this week.

“We need to start on policy and then adjust our policy to whatever comes out of that figure that we have to work with because I think we’ve got to get started on a farm bill.”

Still, that won’t be easy without accurate numbers.

“There’s 39 programs in the farm bill that don’t have any money in the budget, so if you’re going to fund anything, the money’s got to come from someplace else, and we don’t even have a budget figure yet to work with.”

House lawmakers had planned to start formal drafting of a farm bill late this month or in early February. But the top House Ag Democrat suggested in December, some Senate Democrats might want to drag their feet, hoping for a majority next year.

Source: NAFB News Service