Posted: September 24, 2012
Congress left town last week without even considering a new farm bill in the House, leaving the current bill to expire at the end of this month. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said they would deal with a farm bill after the election because he did not believe there were 218 votes to pass either an extension or new legislation.
“It just didn’t have to be,” said a frustrated Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on Friday. “They would have had 218 votes if they had worked it. It’s really unfortunate.”
While current bill expires on September 30 that does not mean an immediate return to the crop support programs of the 1949 law because most farm programs can continue to operate through the end of the year. However, Vilsack says some programs will expire at the end of this month. “The Export Assistance programs, the CRP sign up, the MILC dairy program, some of the conservation programs, and there’s no disaster assistance,” said Vilsack who believes this is a set back to a thriving rural economy. “Rural America has great momentum that’s been built with record exports, record conservation acres, record expansion in biofuels and biobased products,” he said. “We want to add to that momentum and what we’re doing now is creating this uncertainty which creates a real problem for momentum to continue.”
Vilsack fears that Congress will not pass a new farm bill during the lame duck session, meaning the measure would have to wait until the new Congress, which means the already passed Senate bill would be dead and they would have to start all over.
Listen to comments from Vilsack here: Vilsack comments on no farm bill