Disaster Assistance vs. Farm Bill
August 3, 2012
httpv://youtu.be/7n8q-PFEHVgFirst some good news: Congress scrapped its notion for a one year Farm Bill extension! It was an attempt at getting out of passing a new Farm Bill, while accomplishing some goals of House leaders – including cutting mandatory funding for conservation programs. In addition to conservation cuts, the extension would have cut funding for programs that serve beginning farmers, organic farmers, direct marketing, rural development, socially disadvantaged farmers, and more. A huge thank you to everyone who contacted their Representatives – you made the difference!
Now the bad news: We still don’t have a Farm Bill or a disaster assistance bill, and lawmakers won’t consider either one until after their August recess. What will happen then? It’s time for a good ol’ House vs. Senate showdown!
In one corner, the House! Weighing in at 435 members that can’t agree on much, they were somehow able to pass disaster assistance for drought-stricken farmers! This might seems like a great idea, but wait for the irony…they propose paying for it by cutting farm conservation programs! (Unofficial motto: let’s help drought-stricken farmers by cutting off our efforts to help farmers conserve water in the future.)
In the other corner, the Senate! Weighing in at 100 members almost equally divided against each other, they were able to pass their version of the Farm Bill in June! It would not only provide disaster assistance but would ensure other critical programs continue, such as programs for beginning farmers, local food, organic cost-share and rural development! (Unofficial motto: House, can you get your act together so we can pass the Farm Bill, please?)
Who will win? Will the Senate push the House, who already has their version of the Farm Bill out of committee, to vote on the whole enchilada? Will the House let its dysfunction rule and tell the Senate that a disaster assistance bill is all they can muster?
All we do know is this: your phone calls made the difference when the House gave up its terrible one year extension idea. Your calls could make the difference again. Call 202 224-3121 to leave a message for your congressperson, telling them to please pass a 5-year Farm Bill when they return from recess. And if you happen to see them over the next month’s congressional recess, please let them know that passing a Farm Bill is top priority.