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Peterson, Farmers Union, Farm Bureau call for farm bill action; Lucas declines comment

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., joined the National Farmers Union and the American Farm Bureau today in calling for action on a new farm bill in the lame duck session, but House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., declined comment until next week.
Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn.

Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn.
“I’m optimistic” that Congress will finish the farm bill this year, Peterson said in a telephone interview from his district in Minnesota, where he is deer hunting.

“[House Speaker John] Boehner [R-Ohio] always wanted to get it done in the lame duck session,” Peterson said, adding that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said this month that the leadership will bring up the bill in the lame duck.

“It is time to get this over with,” Peterson said. “I don’t what they are going to fight about anymore — there is no election. I think Boehner wants to get this out of the way before all these other issues come up.”

But Peterson also said that he believes it should be brought up on the House floor before the Thanksgiving recess — which would mean next week — because a conference with the Senate would take some time.

“I still think the commodity title is still going to be somewhat difficult to resolve,” he added.

A spokeswoman for Lucas said that he would give interviews on the farm bill next week when the House is back in session.

The Senate has finished the farm bill, but the House Republican leadership has not brought up the bill.

In a meeting with reporters today, Boehner called for Congress to make a down payment to avoid going over the fiscal cliff, but said the biggest part of dealing with the fiscal situation has to be handled in 2013.

Boehner did not mention the farm bill or take questions when he came before the press in the Rayburn Room of the Capitol.

If the House does not pass the farm bill and go to conference with the Senate before the end of the year, all the work done on the bill will be for naught and the whole process would have to begin next year. In addition, there will be more than 60 new members of the House next year, and starting on a new farm bill would be a formidable task for them.
Roger Johnson

Roger Johnson
Earlier today, National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said, “On behalf of NFU’s membership, I congratulate President [Barack] Obama on his re-election.”

“He has shown his dedication to rural America over the past four years, and we will continue to work with him and the administration to ensure that continues,” Johnson said. “We will also continue to press Congress to pass a new five-year farm bill to be signed into law before the end of the legislative session on Dec. 31, 2012.”
Bob Stallman

Bob Stallman
American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman also congratulated Obama as well as the members of Congress who were elected.

Noting that there are “a number of important issues” that need to be addressed, Stallman said “we cannot wait until 2013 for the action to start. Serious work on the farm bill, the fiscal cliff and critical tax policy fixes all must start during the lame duck session of the 112th Congress.”