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US Farm Bill Status: Slow Progress...

The House passed a $383 million disaster aid package for livestock producers on Thursday. The last-minute bill was put in after an attempt to extend the 2008 farm bill was pulled earlier this week. The final vote was 223 to 197 with bipartisan support and bipartisan opposition. 46 Republicans voted against the bill, 35 Democrats voted for it.

The next big question is will the package go anywhere? The Senate has indicated they will not take it up this week and may not even take it up when Congress returns in September. The upper house continues to push the lower house to pass the farm bill.

Senate Ag Committee chair Debbie Stabenow issued a statement: “It’s deeply troubling that the House would leave farmers and small businesses in the lurch at a time when our agriculture economy is vulnerable and facing incredible uncertainty. A five-year Farm Bill not only provides the immediate relief producers need to battle drought and disaster, it also gives farmers the long-term certainty and additional tools they need to keep growing and creating jobs over the long-term.

“By refusing to bring up the Farm Bill, House leadership is doing what Congress always does – kicking the can down the road instead of coming together to solve problems. If Congress does not pass a Farm Bill, there will be no reform, direct payments will continue, we’ll lose the opportunity for major deficit reduction and we’ll deliver a real blow to our economic recovery.”