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Take 2 on Farm Bill in Congress

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Megan Ritter

The 5 year Farm Bill that passed the Senate last year has been reintroduced into the Senate this year and will once again being making its way through the legislative process. Senate Ag Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow said  she is committed to convening a Committee mark up, as soon as possible, to produce an updated version of the Farm Bill. On the House side, House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas has pledged to produce a 5 year bill that will pass the House.  In his opening statement at the House Ag Committee this week, Lucan said, “This is a new Congress and a new opportunity to reauthorize a five-year comprehensive farm bill.  And, I pledge to work with the Secretary, Ranking Member Peterson, members of this Committee, my House and Senate colleagues, and all interested parties to complete our work and ensure our investment in American agriculture.  It will take all of us working together to get it done.”

 

Megan Ritter, National Affairs Director for Indiana Farm Bureau, says it is a new Congress with new players in key positions and that Farm Bureau has not changes its policy but is keeping all options open, “We are not going back in support of direct payments. We know that is a direction that we need to move away from, but we have to keep all options on the table as we negotiate with Congress on a 5-year Farm Bill.”  Ritter is concerned that this new Congress will want to attach new restrictions to farm programs and payments, “We had some very troubling votes in Congress last year when it comes to an equitable support program for farmers.”  She told HAT that Farm Bureau is opposed to means testing and payment limits, everyone needs a support mechanism.  She added she expects that to continue to be an issue in this new Congress.

 

While she remains optimistic, Ritter admits there is no guarantee a 5 year bill will emerge from this new Congress, “What is really going to change over the next 9 months that is not going to put us right back in the same situation of just extending the Farm Bill yet again.”  She said Farm Bureau will engage its members to press Congress for passage of a 5 year bill.

 

Track the latest farm Bill developments on this web site and on the Hoosier Ag Today Smartphone app.

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