The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


Pelosi supports discharge petition, Farr cites Republican pressure

A day after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she supports the discharge petition to force the House leadership to bring up the farm bill, House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee ranking member Sam Farr, D-Calif., said that whether Congress finishes the bill this year depends on pressure on Republicans.

“It depends on how much heat the Republican members are getting,” Farr told The Hagstrom Report today after a speech to the United Fresh Washington Public Policy Conference.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Pelosi said at a news conference on Tuesday that she supports the discharge petition, Farr noted, a move that should dispel rumors that she opposed bringing up the bill because the House Agriculture Committee-passed bill would cut the food stamp program.

After other House Democrats said that the Republican leadership should bring up the farm bill, Pelosi said she backed the petition, according to

“So, perhaps I can add to that by saying that I support the discharge petition, asking the Republican leadership to bring the bill that came out of committee to the floor of the House,” Pelosi said, reported.

“And then we can go to conference and resolve our differences,” Pelosi said. “But the — with almost — well nothing is shocking anymore, but it was quite a surprise to many that the bipartisan bill that was worked on in committee — and again people have different views on it and — and — but we believed it should come to the floor so we could move the process forward, without whipping it one way or another.”

Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif.

Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif.
In his speech, Farr said that the tea party members of the House don’t want to let their leadership bring up any bill that cannot be passed without a Republican majority. They believe that “building a coalition shows weakness,” he said, adding that this belief runs contrary to the way Congress has been run in the past.

Farr said he has been in public life for 38 years and that he has never seen a Congress “as do-nothing as this one.”

The tea party members came to Washington in 2011 with “ultraconservative ideas to cut and trim government,” he said, adding that they don’t recognize that government plays a role in helping business through food safety regulations and other programs.

Farr also told the fruit and vegetable executives that while a new farm bill needs to be passed, he and House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Jack Kingston, R-Ga., “took care of you” in the passage of the congressional resolution that lasts through March 27.

Farr noted that he gets along well with Kingston and had recently hosted him in his California district.

Kingston “got an earful” from a strawberry farmer who said that he had recently switched his voter registration from Republican to independent because he is so upset about the Republicans’ unwillingness to resolve the farm worker immigration issue, Farr said.

The farmer told Kingston that the Republican Party no longer respects agriculture or people who put food on the table and that he will not contribute to the party until the immigration situation is fixed, and Kingston later said that more Republicans should hear that message, Farr said, adding he hoped United Fresh would also deliver the immigration message to Republicans.

Farr said he will visit Kingston’s district “as long as they don’t shoot Democrats.”

Farr urged the fruit and vegetable executives to associate themselves as much as possible with good health, noting that the problems in the world are coming much closer together. After years of talking about bringing health care costs down, he said, “It finally dawned on everybody that maybe we ought to put a little emphasis on prevention.”

Farr also addressed fruit and vegetable growers’ concerns that they will be put out of business because they cannot get labor.

“Agriculture in America has got to stay productive in this country,” he said. “It is the best social value we have. If you didn’t have all that agriculture out there, would you have just sprawl? Environmentalists call themselves tree huggers. They ought to hug everything green because it keeps land in open space. We ought to be able to find more and more common ground.”