Can 2013 Farm Bill be revived? ‘Hopefully we’ll find a way’

va farm bureauIt’s back to the drawing board for the 2013 Farm Bill. Legislation approved by the Senate earlier this year was defeated last week in the House.

“It’s a big shock. … I think most people would have predicted we would have the votes for final passage today and we would have the Senate and House working on some kind of conference committee soon,” said Mary Kay Thatcher, farm policy specialist for the American Farm Bureau Federation, on June 20.

Thatcher speculated that it was provisions of the bill that dealt with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, not farming, that led to the its demise. Most funds from the bill are allocated to nutrition and food assistance programs.

“The food stamp program was really the key to whether this bill could pass,” Thatcher said. “You had a lot of Republicans who wanted way more than $20 billion in cuts, and you had a lot of Democrats who wanted no cuts.”

AFBF President Bob Stallman said the organization is “highly disappointed” and called the legislation “a balanced bill that would have provided much-needed risk management tools and a viable economic safety net for America’s farmers and ranchers.”

What happens now?

“Hopefully we’ll find a way to bring this bill back up, to tweak it enough that we can make everybody happy and get it done … but it won’t be easy,” Thatcher said.

Stallman said such an effort will be critical.

“A completed farm bill is much-needed to provide farmers and ranchers certainty for the coming years and to allow the (U.S. Department of Agriculture) to plan for an orderly implementation of the bill’s provisions.”


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