Just when we thought the Farm Bill was headed for a fast- track conclusion, here comes yet another change in plans. The Super Committee dedicated to deficit reduction simply couldn’t come to an agreement, and now the fast-track Farm Bill heads back to a traditional debate in Congress.
Even though we have to applaud Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Rep. Frank Lucas for finding some common ground in crafting a bill with less funding, we now have to wonder what will happen in 2012. It’s hard to imagine any Farm Bill sailing through Congress during what will surely be a contentious election year.
Most ag observers give the House and Senate Ag Committees high marks for trying to resolve their differences quickly for the Super Committee. It would be nice if that same kind of bipartisanship could exist when the traditional debate begins in both committees. But, as we already know, the budget cutters will renew their efforts in going after certain components of the bill.
Of the farmers I have talked to in recent weeks, they have already accepted the fact that certain parts of the last Farm Bill will be eliminated. It’s just a fact of life. But those same producers are confident that the industry – and, in particular, the National Cotton Council – can coalesce all parties to guide the new Farm Bill to a fair and balanced conclusion.
Agriculture has always done its part to address the deficit. This year will be no exception.
In a five-year span where we’ve seen a recession, the stock market plunge and a bailout of Wall Street, the one shining part of the US economy has been agriculture. Let’s keep the momentum going and keep reminding our friends in Congress of that fact.