Farm Bill a ‘Ticking Time Bomb,’ Senator Says

August 1, 2013 10:01 AM
Farm Bill a ‘Ticking Time Bomb,’ Senator Says

It’s increasingly likely that neither a five-year farm bill nor a farm bill extension will be approved this year thanks in large part to opposition from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), says Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

"This is a ticking time bomb here waiting to go off, and it makes no sense," Stabenow told reporters during a Thursday conference call. In particular, Cantor has "made it clear" that he does not want a farm bill, though House Speaker John Boehner appears to want to get it done, she says.

Friday marks the final day of the session for both chambers of Congress before a five-week recess. 

While senators working on the legislation had hoped to go to conference committee on the farm bill immediately after the recess, Stabenow says, they now must wait to see what the House does with its nutrition title. Reuters has reported that House Republicans are prepared to propose $40 billion in cuts to food stamps, twice as much as had been sought earlier.  

Compounding the situation is the reality of the calendar: In September, the House is scheduled to be in session just nine days.

"The clock is running, and it’s running out on us in terms of a five-year comprehensive farm bill that will make sure that our farmers and ranchers have the risk-management tools that they need," Stabenow says.

While she, other legislators and staff members will continue to meet informally about the farm bill, serious discussion won’t be possible "until we have the full parameters in front of us."

An extension is unlikely, she said, because the Senate already has voted twice to end direct payments. Those same payments were kept intact as part of the extension approved in 2012.

"I’m being asked why, in the context of sequestration and deficits and debates about budgets, continue a subsidy that everyone believes should be eliminated? So this is going to be a very difficult discussion if we don’t get this done."

Assuming neither a new bill nor an extension is approved by Sept. 30, provisions of the 1949 farm bill would take effect, The Washington Post reports.

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Spell Check

8/1/2013 03:55 PM

  I don't pretend to be an expert on the subject, in fact I am not even sure that with my limited knowledge on the subject I should even say anything but...I don't understand why an extension to the farm bill is a bad thing. Unemployment is still high, and a lot of the jobs people are working in today are lower paying and lower benefits than what people had a few years back, so why are we even considering cutting back on "SNAP"/foodstamps? I am not so ignorant of our governments' financial status to think we can afford to support so many people for so long. Remember though, quite a few of the people that are being supported today used to carry a good portion on this countries tax load. However, through little or no fault of their own, they lost a job they may have been at for many years and in its place a job that doesn't cover all the bills as well as the last one did. Without this assistance some may have had to default on a loan or miss credit card payments or cut back on groceries. According to the news even with "SNAP" there are lots of kids going to bed hungry in this country. I think I have said enough but I had to get it off my chest.

8/2/2013 10:31 AM

  I don't begrudge anyone food stamps. But to make SNAP a part of the "farm bill" is ludicrous. Look at the contents of the grocery cart of the SNAP recipients. We aren't providing farm products like meat, milk, eggs, cheese, potatoes, and beans - we are supporting all the processors like Kraft Foods and Tony's Pizza, who already have a much higher profit margin than farmers. Put SNAP together with Medicaid and all the other welfare "entitlement" programs. I've never eaten so well as I did that winter years ago when the price of calves crashed, I lost my ranch job, and I got food stamps.

8/2/2013 11:35 AM

  Mark, thank you for your comments and I agree. By not reenacting the Farm Bill, prices paid to dairy producers will go back to a historical number which will increase the price support of milk to a large number among other things. This is one of the poison pills of not passing a Farm Bill. The House decided to disconnect SNAP in a power move that will hurt many Americans. The republicans in the House have not provided policies in the nation that promote employment and now want to get the stick out for those who are suffering from their policies. At the same time, they passed a huge Farm Bill that does exactly what they blame the Democrats of doing--- buying votes from their farm base with expensive subsidies that do not fit market conditions and are largely less than needed. As a conservative, I hope they all get voted out of office for their hypocrisy and we get common sense conservatives back in power. We have a trade deficit with the rest of the world (China and others) that promotes the off shoring of our manufacturing base (tax base) while allowing these companies to maintain their markets here in the U.S. Here is a ticker of the trade deficit per year in billions with accumulated trade deficit of about 8 TRILLION dollars or about 500 billion a year. All of that is economic activity in other countries while we hemorrhage our national savings and increase the concentration of wealth into the hands of the few (Walmart heirs now own about 40 percent of the nation's wealth). It is complex but I think you are right that what is happening is a national tragedy for everyone but those who are selling the U.S. public interest out. They are getting richer at the economy's expense and they are also enriching oligarchs in China so much that China is doing things like buying Smithfield and JBS (Brazilian) bought Pilgrim's Pride (this is our meat industry). We have the best politicians that money can buy and it shows.


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