Letter from 82 groups opposes extending current law

News
Feb 17, 2012

A varied group of 82 organizations, representing a cross-section of the political and agricultural spectrums, sent a letter to Congress stressing that the farm bill should be written and completed this year.

The list included organizations ranging from the American Farm Bureau Federation to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, and everybody in between.

The letter to House and Senate Agriculture Committee chairs and ranking members stated that the 2012 farm bill is one of the most important pieces of legislation being considered this year by Congress and shouldn’t be delayed.

“We the undersigned have heard calls for an extension of current law,” the letter states. “We ask you to reject these calls for delays and aggressively act to ensure that a new, comprehensive farm bill is passed this year.”

Extensions are common in major pieces of legislation. The last farm bill required nine months of extensions before final passage.

Agricultural and nutrition groups fear significant budget cuts would go into effect Oct. 1 without new policies or overhauls in current farm or food-aid programs.

The letter continues, “Farmers need a safety net that works more effectively, and they need to access tools that help them be good stewards of our natural resources. The farm bill also provides essential resources to prevent hunger, which is especially critical during these tough economic times. The bill also addresses short- and long-term job creation through streamlined and targeted rural economic development policies and investments in agricultural research.”

The groups added, “A temporary extension of current policy creates tremendous uncertainty while serving to further none of these needs. We, therefore, stand ready to help you in an effort to pass a full, comprehensive reauthorization of the farm bill, this year, without needless delay or interruption.”

The letter was also sent to House and Senate leaders.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, has announced a series of farm-bill hearings that begin this week in Washington. House Agriculture Committee leaders have said they will wait for the Senate to pass a bill before acting on their own. — Chris Clayton, DTN

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