The House Agriculture Committee will meet Wednesday to consider the draft discussion 2012 Farm Bill from Chairman Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson. It’s anticipated the committee could do its work on the measure fairly quickly – but beyond that – things are up in the air for the farm bill in the House. Majority Leader Eric Cantor has been quoted as saying he wants to push the pause button on the bill – and there are reports it could be difficult to convince House leaders to schedule floor time for the farm bill. Ag Committee member Kristi Noem of South Dakota recently stated an extension of current farm policy may still be necessary because of the challenge of getting things done in Washington in an election year. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has warned that an extension would fail to provide the clarity farmers and ranchers need. He has said it could even stop the economic growth in rural America. If an extension can be easily done – according to Vilsack – so can a bill.
Coalition Calls for Farm Bill Action
A letter signed by 77 agriculture, conservation, energy, forestry, livestock, hunger and rural organizations thanks House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson for their leadership on the 2012 Farm Bill to this point. The coalition letter also urges the full Agriculture Committee to work in a cooperative, bipartisan fashion to move the bill to the House floor. National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says the letter demonstrates the strong support for completing a bipartisan farm bill before the September 30th deadline. Johnson notes every voter in the country depends on the farm bill. The letter states that the farm bill not only helps farmers plan ahead and mitigate risk to survive tough times – but also provides critical investment in rural communities, conserves precious natural resources like soil and water, provides food for those less fortunate and creates new sources of energy made here at home.
Governor Writes Ag Committee in Support of Forestry Provisions
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is urging the House Ag Committee to support the forestry provisions of the farm bill proposed by Chairman Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson. In a letter to the committee – Hickenlooper writes that many Western states have experienced a particularly devastating and tragic wildfire season. He says many of the provisions under the forestry section would be helpful in addressing the conditions that lead to disastrous wildfires.
Hickenlooper specifically highlights proposals for extending the authorization of stewardship contracting, reauthorizing and expanding the good neighbor authority, identifying critical areas that are at high risk of catastrophic wildfire and then applying streamlined review and implementation processes for thinning projects, and directing the U.S. Forest Service to perform some analysis on the condition of the national forest and the allocation of resources. The Colorado Governor also suggests adding a provision to require the Forest Service to provide Congress with an action or implementation plan on how it is addressing fire threats and suppression response.
House Ag Chair Highlights Farm Bill Study
House Ag Chair Frank Lucas says a new study conducted by the Agricultural and Food Policy Center shows the House managed to save taxpayers money and reduce the deficit while still providing a safety net that farmers can depend on in hard times. He says the biggest take-away from the study is the importance of real price protection in a farm bill. According to Lucas – the study reveals that when presented with the various choices – wherever they farm and whatever they grow – farmers are better off under the risk management option that marries a strong crop insurance policy with a farm bill that provides real price protection against multiple year price declines.
Source: NAFB News Service