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Ag Interests React To House Defeat of Farm Bill

Groups race to keep up support for Farm Bill legislation ahead of Sept. 30 extension expiration

Published on: Jun 21, 2013

Disappointment, frustration and concern were the terms some ag interests used to describe their attitude towards the U.S. House of Representatives after it failed to pass a 2013 Farm Bill Thursday afternoon.

Nearly four years in the making, the bill still couldn't garner the bipartisan support needed to pass. That's a point that Minority Whip Steny Hoyer made clear following final vote on the bill, noting, "we turned a bipartisan bill into a partisan bill."

In his exchange with Senate Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Hoyer blamed House Republicans for pushing away votes by asking for extensive cuts the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. And Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, filed similar comments.

Groups race to keep up support for Farm Bill legislation ahead of Sept. 30 extension expiration
Groups race to keep up support for Farm Bill legislation ahead of Sept. 30 extension expiration

"The farm bill failed to pass the House today because the House Republicans could not control the extreme right wing of their party," Peterson said. "From day one I cautioned my colleagues that to pass a farm bill we would have to work together. Instead, the House adopted a partisan amendment process, playing political games with extreme policies that have no chance of becoming law.

"I'll continue to do everything I can to get a farm bill passed but I have a hard time seeing where we go from here," he said.

Regardless of who or what was behind the bill's failure, legislators and farm groups supporting the bill will have to start over again.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow in a statement highlighted the work the Senate has done in passing the Farm Bill – twice – and urged the House to move on.

"The House needs to find a way to get a five-year Farm Bill done. The Speaker needs to work in a bipartisan way and present a bill that Democrats and Republicans can support. He could start by bringing the Senate bill to the floor for a vote," Stabenow said.

"Maintaining the status quo means no reform, no deficit reduction, and further uncertainty that slows growth in our agriculture industry. This is totally unacceptable."

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House Ag Committee Chair Frank Lucas, R-Okla., stood by the bill, appearing more positive about its outlook than many.

"I'm obviously disappointed, but the reforms in H.R. 1947 … are so important that we must continue to pursue them," he said. "We are assessing all of our options, but I have no doubt that we will finish our work in the near future."

Of course supporting farm groups were none too happy about the voting results, many expressing general disappointment.

"A completed farm bill is much needed to provide farmers and ranchers certainty for the coming years," American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said. "It was a balanced bill that would have provided much needed risk management tools and a viable economic safety net for America’s farmers and ranchers."

The American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association and National Sorghum Producers also returned similar comments.

Most frustration had to do with facing the Farm Bill extension's expiration of Sept. 30 without a contingency plan. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association expressed considerable concern about the lack of disaster programs for livestock producers.

As NCBA noted, the bill "wasn't perfect for any industry," but there were already some groups prepping for a potential revised bill and round two.

National Wildlife Federation CEO Larry Schewiger praised the defeat, noting if passed, the bill "would have been the worst in at least 25 years for fish and wildlife."

"The House farm bill failed commonsense conservation standards," he explained, highlighting the absence of conservation compliance provisions and a national sodsaver program. Schweiger also chastised the House Agriculture Committee for failing to trim production incentives.

The National Taxpayers Union also opposed the Farm Bill, which the group said was "packed with entitlements, favors to agribusiness and unnecessary spending." Similarly, the Environmental Working Group, a strong opponent of some crop insurance policies, said the bill lacked real reforms.

Read more on the House Farm Bill
House Works To Hammer Farm Bill Home
House Rules Committee Preps Farm Bill
House Ag Committee Passes 2013 Farm Bill
House Releases Farm Bill Draft