National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) President Gene Schmidt made the following statement regarding Congress’ passage of a short-term Farm Bill extension rather than a five-year comprehensive bill.
“It is extremely unfortunate that farmers and landowners will be left without the certainty of a five-year policy and the assistance of critical programs to protect America’s land, air and water and to ensure proactive planning for a sustainable food, fiber and fuel supply for the future.
“In total, the fiscal cliff bill does not address deficit reduction, whereas the 2012 Farm Bill as passed by the full Senate and the House Agriculture Committee would have saved taxpayers $23 billion and $33 billion respectively, while maintaining needed funding for important conservation programs. This bill does not raise the debt ceiling, so in two months Congress will be fighting the same budget fights that led to this deal, including the expiration of the Continuing Resolution funding the government through March 27, 2013.
“When Chairwoman Stabenow and Chairman Lucas saw the writing on the wall during the ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations, they worked together to form a 78-page thoughtful farm bill extension, tailored to the needs of the landscape. However, their work was disregarded in this deal, just as the 2012 Farm Bill was never given the opportunity to come to the House floor. In a time of tremendous drought in the West and hurricane damage in the East, the $850 million in disaster aid included in the extension plan agreed to by Senate and House Agriculture Committee Leadership was not included in this deal.
“The shortsighted extension leaves farmers and landowners without the certainty they need to plan for your future food needs as well as the resource needs of the landscape. Now that Congress has dealt with the “fiscal cliff,” we are urging House and Senate Leaders to make the passage of a long-term Farm Bill a top priority.”