What is in this article?:
- Sands running out: eight legislative days before farm bill expires
- Preferences, ag lenders
- Eight legislative days remain before the current farm bill expires on September 30.
- Farm Bill Now, a recently-formed, broad coalition of agriculture and rural advocacy groups, to hold a rally on Capitol Hill Wednesday.
Preferences, ag lenders
Asked if the AFBF has a preference for either the Senate or House farm bills, Maslyn is noncommittal. “Right now, we’re just trying to get the House to act. There are things in both bills that we like. The next logical step is just to get the bill to the House floor, get it passed and move to a conference. The House bill could change considerably before it’s passed and on the House floor.
“So, I won’t say what our preference is at this point. We’ll be looking at things provision-by-provision. But the first challenge is to get the House to consider a new farm bill.”
Conner says there are provisions in both farm bill versions “that we like better than others.
“In the House bill there are some specialty crop provisions that our fruit and vegetable members in California are particularly supportive of.
“Other provisions in the Senate bill (are backed by other members).
“We’re pleased that both the House and Senate, for the most part, appear to lave crop insurance fundamentally intact. They didn’t attempt to extract big savings from crop insurance. I think that’s proven to be a good policy and one we support – particularly in years like this where crop insurance will be what keeps a lot of producers in business.”
As for the chances for Congress to pass disaster legislation if it fails approve a new farm bill, Conner points to comments made by Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. Stabenow “has indicated she hopes the farm bill can be completed with disaster assistance before the elections.
“She has further said that if that can’t happen it would be her intent to attempt to pass separate disaster legislation. That would be particularly be targeted towards livestock producers without access to crop insurance and need some additional help to get through this very difficult patch we’re in relative to the drought of 2012.”
Meanwhile, as farmers look to the 2013 cropping season, agriculture lenders have become more vocal in pushing Congress for farm bill stability.
“I’ve heard directly and indirectly from (lenders) about their concerns,” says Maslyn. “We share those.
“We’ve said for a long time that farmers and ranchers are businessmen and women running substantial investments in land and capital, equipment and labor. They need predictability and certainty. Right now, the Congress, House and Senate are standing in the way (of such certainty).”
Mason is on the same page. “Because our farm credit system institutions are cooperatives – owned and controlled by the farmers and ranchers who borrow from them – we very much understand the financial decisions that go into farming. We work with our borrowers as partners in making those decisions.
“A lot of the long-term decisions can’t be made until and unless there is certainty about federal farm policy. That means a lot of people will be faced with the next crop year, equipment purchases and things like that when so much is up in the air.”