“Our real regret is that we had three farm bills that were all significant improvements over what we are currently operating under, and yet Senators could not reach a bipartisan agreement on any of the proposals before recessing for the holidays,” says Chip Morgan, executive director of Delta Council.

“It is our view that farm bills are not partisan issues. We have never been successful with a partisan farm bill, because we need both parties in order to develop sound farm policy,” he says.

Delta Council obviously had preferences for certain provisions in each of the three farm policy proposals under consideration by the Senate. Those preferences, however, all became moot when the Senate tabled the legislation until after their Christmas recess. Each of the three proposals was defeated along party lines.

“It is disappointing and disheartening to all farmers, farm lenders, and allied agricultural businesses for us to miss this opportunity to move the Farm Bill process forward,” says Delta Council President Ben Lamensdorf. “However, I think it is important to note that we had built the necessary momentum to get three very good Farm Bills under consideration – the Cochran-Roberts proposal, the Daschle-Harkin proposal, and the House-passed provision. Regrettably, however, we were unable to get the bipartisan support necessary to have a favorable vote before Christmas.”

The Congress will reconvene in the third week of January and the Farm Bill debate is expected to resume at that time.

“The farm leadership of the United States has always exhibited a keen sensitivity to the needs of farm families and rural areas of this nation, and we have been especially fortunate to have congressional leaders from Mississippi who establish the agenda for good farm policy,” says Lamensdorf. “It is our full intent to make certain that our U.S. Senators and Congressman know that further delays in the passage of sound farm policy will be devastating and possibly irreversible.

“We are confident that the block of Senators representing Southern agriculture will be able to bring about a bipartisan Farm Bill that is responsive to the circumstances we face,” adds Lamensdorf.

e-mail: dmuzzi@primediabusiness.com