Let's return to Washington to finish the farm bill - Speaker Boehner, Leader Cantor, bring us back. Let’s get this done, pass a farm bill
Let's return to Washington to finish the farm bill
By Rep. Kathy Hochul (D-N.Y.) - 09/25/12 09:41 AM ET
Imagine if our farmers did their jobs the way Congress has been doing its job. I know what you’re thinking: we’d all starve. At the end of this month, House leadership will reaffirm this sad truth by letting the 2008 farm bill expire without attempting to pass a new five-year bill, or even an extension of current law. What message does this send to the agricultural community? “Politics matters more than you do.”
This week, I attended a ribbon-cutting for a $20 million yogurt facility in Batavia, New York, the "Greek Yogurt Capital" of the country. Western New York farmers want to know that programs promoting dairy production will be in place to support this exciting investment, which will add to our already vibrant agricultural economy. In my district alone, farmers produce over $739 million in goods each year, but congressional inaction is putting this economic engine in jeopardy. Without a farm bill, the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program will expire, ripping a hole in the safety net for dairy farmers and leaving smaller family farms out to dry when milk prices drop. An expiring farm bill will also suspend research into new specialty crop varieties, as well as programs that help our farmers export their goods to foreign markets. Only this Congress would walk away from legislation that cuts both our budget deficit and trade deficit while supporting jobs on the farm.
Every day, America’s farmers show up to work and get the job done for our country. Sadly, the same cannot be said for this Congress. On Friday, House leadership decided to give up on governing and head home, rather than staying in Washington to address the real problems our constituents elected us to confront. Meanwhile, farmers across the country continue to suffer the consequences of the worst drought in a generation. It is critical that we support these hard-working farm families who strengthen our national security by delivering food security for the American people.
The inability of the House to stand up for America’s farmers is especially astounding when you consider that the legwork for this legislation is almost entirely done: the Senate passed a bipartisan Farm Bill in June, and the House Agriculture Committee passed a bipartisan farm bill in July. Working together, Republicans and Democrats produced legislation to reduce the deficit while providing agricultural producers with the certainty they need to make long term plans, invest in new capital, expand their operations, and create jobs. For months, all that has stood in the way of relief for our farmers is a House leadership team unwilling to put politics aside and do the right thing for rural America.
I am not alone in fighting for this legislation. Representatives on both sides of the aisle and from across the country are ready to act—and I know many would gladly return to Washington before the election if it meant delivering real results for our farmers.
[b]Speaker Boehner, Leader Cantor, bring us back. Let’s get this done, pass a farm bill,[/b] and let the conferees do their work. Every day, America’s farmers go to work for our country. It’s time for our government to start working for them.
Hochul, a Democrat, is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee.