Farm Bill Passes Committee, But May Not Get Through House
The 2012 farm bill - which would deeply affect northern New York farmers - may not make it through the House of Representatives.
House speaker John Boehner called parts of the bill "Soviet-style" and would not commit Thursday to bringing the bill to the full House for a vote.
The bill passed the House agriculture committee with support from Democrats and Republicans, but "faces strong opposition from conservatives who say it spends too much," according to The Hill, a website devoted to Congress.
The farm bill is a $957 billion measure that reshapes farm subsidies and guarantees.
North country Congressman Bill Owens was one of the members of the agriculture committee who supported the farm bill, which would cover the next five years.
“I am pleased Republicans and Democrats were able to come together to send legislation to the House floor that will support specialty crops and dairy in our region, improve program efficiency, and provide farmers and growers the certainty they need to improve our economy and maintain a secure food supply,” Owens said.
Not so fast, said Boehner. At his weekly press conference, Boehner said "“We’ve got a Soviet-style dairy program in American today, and one of the proposals in the farm bill would actually make it worse.”
(That quote comes from The Hill's article on Boehner's opposition; it's a good read on the issues the farm bill presents. Find it here.)
"From what we've had in the past, it's kind of a game changer," said William "Ed" Walldroff of the Jefferson County Cooperative Extension's
Provisions in the farm bill will set up an insurance program for farmers, to try and stabilize the amount of income they bring in each year.
If the price of milk goes too low and a farmer's costs go too high, the farmer will receive a payment to help keep their income at a steady and predictable level.
Some farmers say this is a big improvement.
"The biggest challenge we face, though, is that our milk price can vary as much from $9 for concentrated milk to as high as $17 so it makes it very difficult to plan and budge for a business with that kind of volatility," said Todd Hyman of Hy-Light Farms. "I think the dairy stabilization act addresses that."
Farmers will have to pay a certain amount of money per hundred pounds of milk they produce. The bill is also expected to save the government and taxpayers money.
The clock is ticking: lawmakers have a break coming up in August and the current farm bill expires in September.
Noteworthy: the bill's dairy provisions are supported by dairy farmers, but opposed by dairy processors, The Hill reports.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013, Watertown, NY
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