A group of more than eighty organizations have sent a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Agricultural Committees asking them to reject the idea of a one-year extension of the farm bill and act aggressively to write a new farm bill in 2012.
Rick Tolman, CEO of the National Corn Growers Association, which was one of the organizations that signed the letter, says there are a couple of dynamics that are in play that prompted this letter.
"We had a false start with the Super Committee last fall and we got a lot of people thinking, a lot of things happening, so we are farther along than we might be in a normal farm bill progress, so we want to build on that momentum and keep going," Tolman said. "Perhaps the most important thing is that the budget situation continues to deteriorate. There are some, not in ag but outside, that would like to put the farm bill off until next year because this is an election year. Our sense is that the budget situation will be worse in 2013 than it is in 2012 so we are better off getting it done now, sooner rather than later."
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson agrees with Tolman that the financial situation is unlikely to improve and quick action is needed.
"We just wanted to be sure that the leaders in Congress and the Agriculture Committees understood that the whole industry is behind them in their efforts to get a farm bill out very quickly," Johnson said.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., has recently scheduled farm bill hearings during the next month. The Senate is taking the lead on this farm bill, as they have several committee members who have been through the process before, while there are a large number of freshmen Congressmen on the House Agriculture Committee.
"I think it is a fairly well coordinated process," Johnson said. "It's difficult because this is an election year too, and it is always harder to pass legislation in election years. So besides the money being more difficult as time goes on, the closer you get to the election the more difficult it becomes."
Johnson says there is a sense of urgency, and the signals are that all of agriculture, including the Ag Committees want to get a farm bill written in 2012.
To view the letter click the link below.