The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


Farm bill expires Sunday, farm groups call for action

The expiration of the 2008 farm bill on Sunday will not affect most farm programs immediately, but farm groups called this week for action on a new bill as soon as Congress comes back to Washington after the November 6 election.

“With the 2008 farm bill expiring on Sunday, it is of upmost importance that Congress take up farm legislation when they return for a lame duck session after the November elections. America’s farmers, ranchers and growers need the certainty that comes from knowing the rules of the game as they begin to make planting decisions for the 2013 crop year this winter,” National Council of Farmer Cooperatives President and CEO Chuck Conner said in a statement today.

“In order for Congress to take action, though, those of us in the agricultural community need to move beyond simply calling on Congress to pass a bill. We must come together to develop a framework for farm programs that meets the needs of all producers, regardless of the region of the country they farm in or the commodity that they grow,” added Conner, a former deputy and acting Agriculture secretary, White House aide and Senate Agriculture Committee staff director when Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., chaired that committee.

Conner also urged farm groups to be ready when Congress comes back to town, and hinted that they should work out compromises over farm policy in advance.

“If Congress is ready and willing to act in the lame duck to pass a new, five-year farm bill, then farm groups need to have at the ready an equitable plan that ensures Americans can continue to have access to a safe, affordable, abundant and sustainable supply of food and fiber. Farm bills cannot be written overnight, but the lame duck session will allow us enough time to complete one so long as work begins soon,” Conner said.

On Monday, National Association of Wheat Growers President Erik Younggren, a wheat and sugar beet farmer from Hallock, Minn., said the House’s lack of farm bill action was “both surreal and deeply unsettling.”

“Members of Congress are now fanning out across our nation to ask for our support in their efforts to get their jobs back,” Younggren said.

“Regardless of party or position, we strongly encourage farmers to ask their legislators for an explanation of why they have failed to pass this fundamental legislation despite ample time and the worst drought conditions in our lifetimes,” he said. “We can only hope that House leaders have the will to bring forward the five-year reauthorization of the farm bill as the first item of business when they return in November and get done what should have been done long ago.”

Last Friday, American Soybean Association President Steve Wellman, a Syracuse, Neb., farmer, said his 21,000 members in 31 states were disappointed at House inaction on the farm bill and called for immediate action when Congress returns.

“When members of Congress return after the election in November, the excuses and the foot-dragging must stop, and the House must dedicate itself to passing a new comprehensive five-year farm bill that provides farmers with the stability, security and certainty they need while doing agriculture’s part to contribute to deficit reduction,” Wellman said. “Anything less will be another failure by Washington on the part of American farmers.”