WASHINGTON, June 11, 2013- National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) President Chuck Conner told NCFC members today that the Senate passing the farm bill Monday night was “the easy part.”
“Going forward with the House debate is something we need to watch very, very closely,” he said at the NCFC Washington Conference Tuesday morning.
NCFC led a group of more than 170 farm organizations in a letter sent to all House members today urging them to take up the farm bill. “We stand united in our strong support for a new five-year bill and commend the House Committee on Agriculture for advancing a bill for timely action by the full House,” states the letter. “Failure to pass a five-year farm bill before the end of September would mean continued uncertainty for farmers, ranchers and their rural communities; it would also mean that American taxpayer would see none of the budget savings achieved.”
While noting that “virtually every agricultural organization and farmer-owned cooperative across the country will be a part of that letter,” Conner said he believes the farm bill is on track to be completed this year. As long as the bill is debated, “our message is strong enough that we will win the debates we need to win,” Conner said.
He also said the fact that the House is preparing for a floor debate is “a huge thing,” because the process is further along than at this juncture last year. “There was never any thought of taking up that bill on the House floor,” he said, regarding the 2012 farm bill process.
Conner said this week is a “watershed” time for agriculture, given the upcoming debate of the farm bill in the House and the debate on immigration reform legislation in the Senate that began Tuesday.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack also addressed NCFC members today, emphasizing that “this is a critical time for agriculture and rural America” while the farm bill and immigration reform are addressed in Congress.
“This is the year for both to be passed,” he said, adding that if they are not passed in 2013, “chances are that they’re not going to get passed next year in an election year.”
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