Little hope left for passing a new farm bill before the start of the congressional August recess.
|Rep. Collin Peterson, Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee.
A frustrated Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) today chastised the House Leadership for leaving little hope of passing a new farm bill before Congress adjourns for its August break.
“Today is the last day of session before the August recess and once again the House will adjourn without finishing its work,” said Peterson, Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee. “No wonder no one likes Congress. Members will now have to explain to their constituents why the House did not even try to consider a new five-year farm bill. Frankly, we’re in this position because the House Leadership has refused to bring a five-year farm bill to the floor.”
Peterson said he and House Ag Committee chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) have worked in bipartisan spirit for months to craft a new five-year farm bill, making many important and needed reforms. “If [Lucas] had his way, we would have already passed a farm bill,” Peterson said.
Their bipartisan efforts have been stymied by House leadership delays and a focus “on messaging bills that are going nowhere,” Peterson said.
"Instead of bringing up the five-year farm bill, the Republican Leadership last week put forward a one-year farm bill extension, hoping to delay action until the next Congress with hopes to dismantle the farm and food safety nets,” he added. "Fortunately, under intense opposition from those in agriculture, the Leadership had to pull the bill.”
While Peterson said he would vote in favor of H.R. 6233, the disaster aid bill being considered today, he called it a “sad substitute for what is really needed – long-term policy.” He noted the ag committee’s proposed farm bill carries similar disaster provisions as well as a stronger farm safety net. “A five-year farm bill will do a better job of providing certainty for American agriculture and assistance during this period of drought,” he said.
“It’s just mystifying to me why House Leaders can’t take yes for an answer,” Peterson said. "We’ve done our work – the Senate has passed a farm bill, the House Agriculture Committee has passed a farm bill but Leadership does not want to bring up the bill.”
Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, also issued the following statement regarding House leadership’s refusal to move forward with the farm bill:
“It’s deeply troubling that the House would leave farmers and small businesses in the lurch at a time when our agriculture economy is vulnerable and facing incredible uncertainty. A five-year farm bill not only provides the immediate relief producers need to battle drought and disaster, it also gives farmers the long-term certainty and additional tools they need to keep growing and creating jobs over the long-term.
“By refusing to bring up the farm bill, House leadership is doing what Congress always does – kicking the can down the road instead of coming together to solve problems. If Congress does not pass a farm bill, there will be no reform, direct payments will continue, we’ll lose the opportunity for major deficit reduction and we’ll deliver a real blow to our economic recovery."
Congress returns from its break Sept. 10.