As Congress and the President wrestle over the budget and whether or not it should be tied to the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare,” not only has the government shut down, but farm programs have come to a halt as the one-year extension of the last Farm Bill expired on Oct. 1. And that has meant some key conservation programs, such as the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, are not taking any new sign-ups.
While about 90 percent of the country, including probably a similar number of farmers and ranchers, is frustrated with Congress, the American Farm Bureau Federation is heaping scorn on all sides for not even moving the new farm bill to the conference process and issued this statement from AFBF President Bob Stallman.
“Farm Bureau members are deeply concerned over the political challenges that are making it next to impossible for Congress to reach a compromise on important legislation, while restoring fiscal order and setting a responsible course to get the federal budget back on track. Adding to our frustration, both the House and Senate versions of the farm bill would provide significant savings that could be applied toward reducing the federal deficit.
“Now that the 2008 farm bill extension has expired, farmers once again are left with uncertainty as to the safety net and risk management tools that are important in planning for next year’s crop. And come January, consumers once again face the impact of high food costs as decades-old farm policy kicks in.
“Both the House and Senate agriculture committees have worked hard to put together bipartisan packages that would deliver solid safety net options and comprehensive risk management tools for farmers and ranchers. It is past time for Congress to let these two committees get back to what they do best – work together in a bipartisan fashion to forge the best new farm bill possible in today’s tough political environment.”
Stallman encouraged Congress and Obama to start working together to fix the Nation’s budget and get a new farm bill, including its conservation provisions, approved.