Farm groups oppose Senate action on House-passed disaster bill

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2012 - Citing concerns over further delays in completing a new five-year farm bill, thirteen farm organizations sent a letter to Senate leaders today and asked that they refrain from passing the disaster assistance package which was approved by the House on August 2.

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“We know that some Senators will return from the recess and encourage you to consider the House-passed measure. This is something our groups do not support,” the groups noted in a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY. “We strongly urge you to refrain from this as we fear that passage of a bill similar to the House bill could result in further delays in completing a full five-year farm bill.

The letter was signed by the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Barley Growers Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, National Milk Producers Federation, National Sunflower Association, Northarvest Bean Growers Association, United Fresh Produce Association, U.S. Canola Association, USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council and Western Growers.

Earlier this week, Sen. Debbie Stabenow was reported in the Detroit Free Press as saying:

"I am very hopeful that the House will act on the farm bill. If not, I am optimistic we'll get a disaster assistance bill through.”

The groups pointed out that separate legislation providing livestock disaster assistance would not be necessary if Congress passed a new farm bill which includes almost identical language to the four programs included in the Senate-passed farm bill and the bill reported by the House Agriculture Committee. And those provisions would be paid for in the context of the bill.

Plus, they noted that not all types of livestock are treated equally under the disaster package and that fruit and vegetable producers who were hard hit by freezing weather earlier this year also need help.

“Assistance for cattle and sheep producers is very important, and we strongly support helping them in the five-year farm bill, but it is also important to provide assistance to producers of other types of livestock and fruits and vegetables. The House disaster assistance bill does not help hog or poultry producers and only provides limited assistance via the grazing program for the dairy

industry. The bill does not help dairy producers who are not located in a designated disaster county with grazing assistance and does not address high feed prices for dairy, hog or poultry producers. 

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