I have spent much of my time over the past month in Washington visiting with members of Congress and other policy makers about the importance of the 2012 farm bill.
Each meeting seems to end in the same fashion as the others: Democrats blame Republicans and Republicans blame Democrats. If I ask someone from the House, I hear that it is the fault of the Senate; and when I ask someone from the Senate, I hear it is the fault of the House.
Agriculture policy historically has not just been bipartisan, it’s been non-partisan.
Farmers recognize the seriousness of the federal government’s financial situation and that any new legislation needs to be responsive to taxpayers.
Our organization understands that programs important to agriculture will be cut. We are willing to do our part to significantly reduce government spending and move towards market-based programs that meet today’s risks. We are, to our knowledge, the only constituency to do so.
Why is this important? Agriculture is one of the few bright spots in the American economy. Our farmers continue to be more productive and innovative.
To continue that trend, we need to have some certainty about how we plan our business.
The current farm bill expires at the end of the year. I am glad we have moved away from the days when farmers “farmed the program” rather than for the market, but we need to know what the program is going to be for next year’s crop. We can’t do that if the Congress fails to pass a farm bill.
I’ve heard enough “We can’t get a farm bill done this year” from folks in Washington — and even from some in agriculture. It’s only the beginning of April. We have eight months left in the year and seven until the election so that excuse won’t work for us.
We need to get a bill done this year — and it can be done.
I have been wearing a button on my lapel for the past few weeks that says, “Farm Bill Now.” I will send one to any farmer in America and any member of Congress if they write me and say they are committed to getting the job done. Let’s pass a farm bill now — I have plenty of buttons!