Farm bill idles as congressional recess nears

Farm bill stuck on sideline as congressional recess approaches.

With just two weeks until the congressional August recess begins, it remains unclear if the 2012 Farm Bill will come to the House floor this summer.

As of Thursday afternoon, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who effectively controls the floor schedule along with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), had not made a decision about floor time.

Pressure is on from agriculture leaders in the House, including House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), and through a Dear Colleague letter urging floor consideration, led by Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.).

“The House Agriculture Committee has done its work and we now ask that you make time on the floor of the House to consider this legislation, so that it can be debated, conferenced and ultimately passed into law, before the current bill expires,” the letter said, referencing the legislation passed by the Ag Committee on July 12.

“We need to continue to tell the American success story of agriculture and work to ensure we have strong policies in place so that producers can continue to provide an abundant, affordable and safe food supply.”

Calls for House consideration of the bill this summer, which is necessary to finalize new farm and food policy by the time current law expires on Sept. 30, also continue to come from farmers and rural constituents through Hill visits and calls, media interviews and social media using the hashtag #farmbillnow.

NAWG joined 45 groups in writing to Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) late last week, telling them “time is short” to get the new bill passed.

“While representing a wide range of interests, we are united in our view that the bill should receive floor time and be finalized this year, on schedule,” the groups wrote.

“We reject calls for delay and believe that extension of the current bill does not adequately address the needs of farmers, ranchers, foresters, those in need of food assistance at home and abroad, conservation, rural communities, or food and agricultural research.”

NAWG President Erik Younggren told RURAL TV on Monday that “our winter wheat guys will be planting here in August, and we’re encouraging our lawmakers to keep working just like farmers do. We don’t stop, and we don’t think that the lawmakers should stop either.”

NAWG is continuing to work with other commodity groups and Hill officials to determine a path for the 2012 Farm Bill this year. NAWG encourages all readers to contact their Members of the House and House Leadership to express the importance of quick farm bill action.

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