By Robert Schlesinger |
All year I have heard from my grain and livestock producers, cooperatives, and processers that America needs a five-year farm bill. Yet, despite their calls on Congress and the drought they have faced, the need for credit, expansions in crop insurance, conservation tools, payment modifications, and market resources, the House leadership has left us empty-handed.
Immediately after the House committee approved the farm bill on July 11, a bipartisan coalition began building support for its consideration on the House floor. On July 20, our coalition sent a letter to House leadership stressing the importance of getting this bill to the floor and giving the entire House the opportunity to cast a vote on behalf of constituents.
With two bipartisan options on the table—both with significant savings—agriculture-related groups in all 50 states have rightly decried a one-year extension. As a farmer myself, I understand and I am shocked that this summer's drought and the need for job security has not spurred more action and consideration of what is clearly the best option: a five-year farm bill providing long-term certainty in a market that must deal with the uncontrollable forces of nature.
We have heard time and time again from the Republican leadership how uncertainty in the marketplace hinders job creation and economic growth. Throughout our economic battles these past few years, we have seen many rural communities and the nation overall stabilized by the agricultural sector. It supports nearly 16 million jobs nationwide and over 45 million people are helped each year by the nutrition programs in the farm bill.
Not passing a long-term farm bill is bringing uncertainty to the family farms in Iowa and across this nation, and to the processors, vendors, and consumers alike. We all know that food prices will rise this winter because of the drought. But how long will they continue to rise? How can we stabilize food costs for families if the Republican leadership will not even allow us to debate a bill that will give producers the tools they need to do the job? The message from our constituents is clear—we need a farm bill NOW. Unfortunately, so far, those with the responsibility to put the bill on the floor are simply not listening.
About Leonard Boswell Democratic U.S. Representative from Iowa
Melissa Boteach Director of the Poverty and Prosperity Program for Center for American Progress
Jim Weill President of the Food Research and Action Center
Roger Johnson President of the National Farmers Union
Nan Swift Federal Government Affairs Manager at the National Taxpayers Union