WASHINGTON, July 11, 2013- Although major agriculture groups oppose the effort, House Republicans defend voting on a split farm bill as a last resort for passing farm policy reform.
The House will vote Thursday on a farm bill (H.R. 2642) that would exclude the nutrition title and repeal a major stronghold for agricultural interests, the 1949 and 1938 permanent law.
House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said he believes splitting the farm bill is a mistake in the long run.
“They are ignoring the advice of most of the groups affected by the bill and I see no clear path to getting a bill passed by the House and Senate and signed by the President,” Peterson said in a statement Wednesday.
Major agricultural lobby groups oppose the efforts to remove the Nutrition Title from the farm bill. An opposition letter sent to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, last week was signed by 532 national and regional organizations, including the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union.
However, Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., said a vote on farm-only policies of the farm bill may the last chance to get the farm bill policy reforms the House Agriculture Committee developed into law. “We can’t lose sight of the end goal,” he said. “We need to get an agriculture bill to conference.”
“I don’t know how many more bites at the apple we’re going to get,” Davis added. He said the agriculture community lost sight of the end goal by “deciding to fight with each other on individual amendments” in the farm bill process.
Establishing an improved crop insurance program and finding savings through the elimination of direct payments and other reforms should motivate members to vote on a farm-only farm bill, he said.
“A ‘no’ vote on just the farm portion of the bill is a vote to spend $20.5 billion more than what we should spend,” he said, regarding the estimated savings in farm policy changes made by the House Agriculture Committee.
Similarly, Davis said in the event a vote on HR 2642 fails, another extension of the 2008 Farm Bill would spend $40 billion more than needed over the next five years.
“This is about putting a down payment on our national debt,” he said. “It’s the reason I ran for Congress and the reason people should be out here in Washington.”
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