The extension of the current farm Bill is not a good thing, according to Ray McCormick, a Knox County farmer and chairman of the IASWCD. He said the conservation title of the Senate Farm Bill was progressive and less costly that what is contained in the extension, “Just continuing down the same path does not improve the efficiency or put the money in the right place.” He added, if we really want to cut costs, then Congress should have passed the Farm Bill they crafted last year.
McCormick says it is unlikely the new Senate will simply adopt the previous version of the Farm Bill, primarily because of key changes on the Senate Ag Committee. Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, ranking minority member of the committee, has moved over to the Rules Committee and been replaced by Thad Cochran of Mississippi. McCormick says that will change the political dynamics of the committee, “Now we have a new player from the cotton and soybean belt instead of the Midwest.” Cochran will be the leading Republican on the committee and will likely favor direct farm payments, something opposed by Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow. McCormick says Cochran has a strong conservation background but “He is an unknown player.”
Roberts and Stabenow worked well together and were instrumental in crafting the Senate bill. McCormick says going forward that may not be the case, “Roberts was being advised by Anne Hazlett, the former Indiana Director of Agriculture, so we had a real good connection to those conservation programs and provisions. But now there is this major unknown.”
On the House side, Ag committee chairman Peterson has said he will not even begin a new Farm Bill process until he has assurances from House leadership that it will be voted on. Peterson has suggested additional extensions of current law may be needed until the impasse with leadership is resolved.
[audio:https://www.hoosieragtoday.com//wp-content/uploads//2013/01/farmbillwrap.mp3|titles=New Congress May Be Less Friendly to Midwest Ag]