September 7, 2012
On Friday, September 7, the two major general farm organizations and 11 commodity groups wrote a letter (PDF) to Senate leadership to urge them not to pass a stand-alone farm disaster bill in September. The letter urged lawmakers to deal with drought relief as part of a comprehensive new five-year farm bill. The House passed a stand-alone disaster bill immediately prior to the August recess.
The letter argues that the pending five-year farm bills include comprehensive disaster aid rather than the narrow and incomplete package in the House-passed stand-alone bill. The letter also argues that the House disaster bill unfairly cuts funding for the Conservation Stewardship Program and Environmental Quality Incentives Program, over and above the $23 billion in total cuts and $6 billion in conservation cuts in the pending five-year bills. The groups stress that passing a separate disaster bill is unnecessary and counterproductive.
We couldn’t agree more. Congress needs to finish its work on the new farm bill and should do so this year. A separate disaster bill is not needed and will only serve to defeat a new farm bill.
If Congress cannot finish the new farm bill in September, the only bill it should consider is a short term extension of the current bill. It’s time to get the new farm bill done. Congress should finish the job this year.