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Just Like in Bowling a Split Is Not a Good Thing

by Mike Austin

Farm Bureau Lobbyist Discussed Possible Farm Bill Split

Those are the words of American Farm Bureau lobbyist Mary Kay Thatcher in response to a suggestion that Congress separate the farm and conservation programs from the food and nutrition portion of the farm bill. The reason, the food stamp provision alone makes up nearly 80% of the cost of the farm bill and both analyst and members of Congress agree it was the lack of consensus on the food and nutrition programs that resulted in the failure of the farm bill to pass through the House.

Now Thatcher is not alone in this opinion as 532 Ag related groups and organizations sent a letter to House Speaker Boehner saying what a bad idea this would be. However despite the letter and the urging of Secretary of Agriculture not to separate the two provisions, the Hill paper Roll Call reported on Tuesday that the republican leadership has decided to drop food stamps from the bill in hopes of getting the farm bill out of the House and into conference. Iowa senator and  Senate Ag Committee member Chuck Grassley says Eric Cantor the number 2 man in the House held a meeting with GOP Committee Chairmen and allegedly scolded them for their lack of support on the farm bill and told them they need to get a farm bill through the House now.

Grassley says even though he has no problem with separating the food and nutrition segments from farm and conservation programs. He doesn't think the plan will fly because not only do agricultural, forestry and conservation groups object, but democratic leadership, at least in the senate, say they won't support it either. So the soap opera continues, and for those who feel we are heading toward another extension of the 2008 farm bill. Democratic leadership says they will not allow that to happen. Stay tuned. 

Those are the words of American Farm Bureau lobbyist Mary Kay Thatcher in response to a suggestion that Congress separate the farm and conservation programs from the food and nutrition portion of the farm bill. The reason, the food stamp provision alone makes up nearly 80% of the cost of the farm bill and both analyst and members of Congress agree it was the lack of consensus on the food and nutrition programs that resulted in the failure of the farm bill to pass through the House.

Now Thatcher is not alone in this opinion as 532 Ag related groups and organizations sent a letter to House Speaker Boehner saying what a bad idea this would be. However despite the letter and the urging of Secretary of Agriculture not to separate the two provisions, the Hill paper Roll Call reported on Tuesday that the republican leadership has decided to drop food stamps from the bill in hopes of getting the farm bill out of the House and into conference. Iowa senator and  Senate Ag Committee member Chuck Grassley says Eric Cantor the number 2 man in the House held a meeting with GOP Committee Chairmen and allegedly scolded them for their lack of support on the farm bill and told them they need to get a farm bill through the House now.

Grassley says even though he has no problem with separating the food and nutrition segments from farm and conservation programs. He doesn't think the plan will fly because not only do agricultural, forestry and conservation groups object, but democratic leadership, at least in the senate, say they won't support it either. So the soap opera continues, and for those who feel we are heading toward another extension of the 2008 farm bill. Democratic leadership says they will not allow that to happen. Stay tuned.