Ag Policy Blog
Chris Clayton DTN Ag Policy Editor

Sunday 09/16/12

Stalled Farm Bill Affecting Rank and File Republican Reps

Republicans are facing more criticism over the lack of action on the farm bill. It's becoming a bigger issue in a few key races.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., used the farm bill inaction to bash his opponent, Rep. Dennis Rehberg. a Republican.

The Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald wrote an editorial Sunday on the state's U.S. Senate race pitting Republican Rep. Rick Berg against former state Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat. The newspaper writes the stalled farm bill reflects a problem with the Republican-led House -- the unwillingness to compromise with Democrats on just about anything.

The editorial states the farm bill is popular in North Dakota because it works. It stabilizes rural communities and helps keep this country flush with food. But the farm bill is a federal program and that is exactly what House Republicans ran against in 2010.

"Why won’t Republican leaders even let the House vote?

"The answer is that they’re ideologues (or in thrall to an ideological caucus) and scorn even effective programs that seem to be arms of “big government.” The famous budget by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., captures this philosophy best. Besides upending Medicare, the budget hammers the Farm Bill and most other nondefense programs, as it must to cut taxes while shrinking government."

The Grand Forks editorial:…

Speaking in Fargo, N.D., on Friday, House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said a three-month extension proposal by House leaders is simply cover for lawmakers to say they have tried to solve the problem.

"This is another disingenuous gesture to try to get their members off the hook," Peterson said in the Fargo Forum. “This is all cover so they can vote for this and tell people at home they did something,” Peterson said. “They’re just playing all kinds of games.”…

The Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald had an article as well on Sunday looking at division among Nebraska and Iowa congressmen over the farm bill and the petition filed by Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., has signed the petition, but Reps. Adrian Smith and Lee Terry of Nebraska have declined. Terry makes the argument, "I'd like to see more reforms on the nutrition welfare side. They got a heck of a boost in the stimulus package, and I think we need to really look at some reasonable reforms on who's eligible, how to prevent fraud, and see if we can't bring the numbers down."

I'm going to interject here because Terry must believe such changes to a bill are made through inertia. However, harkening back on my Schoolhouse Rock days, I understand that if a lawmaker wants to change some parameters of a program in a bill that lawmaker can offer an amendment to the bill. The amendment is then debated on its merits. However, to do so, the bill actually must be brought to the floor and debated as well, leading to a possible vote on the entire piece of legislation.

I can be found on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN

Posted at 8:41PM CDT 09/16/12 by Chris Clayton
Comments (5)
No surprise here. Wait until all the government programs the rural states and farmers rely on go away and then listen to the whining. I trust Bonnie D has some wisdom to share about that. We will see if the Republicans are all self made, independent, extraordinary human beings that never need to work with the rest of the population to achieve above average success.
Posted by Don Thompson at 8:44AM CDT 09/17/12
This article and comments are serious issues. They would be more serious if not for the fact that we've been subjected to identical treatment from the Senate for several years. The farm bill affects us individually but there are national issues that have been tabled in similar manner. No solution just good at stating the obvious.
Posted by CURTIS SAYLES at 9:15AM CDT 09/17/12
Why should the federal government be involved in farms? Why should they be picking the winners and losers? Nothing farm about this bill anyways. 100% welfare bill to redistribute those tax dollars we don't have.
Posted by Unknown at 10:40AM CDT 09/17/12
It's amazing how many have forgot the trials and tribulations and utlimate success story of US Agriculture. Farm bills have been an integral part of that story, by stabilizing farm incomes, while increasing farm production. This has led to more abundant, thus cheaper, food, fuel, and fiber products, not to mention jobs-- especially important when we have excess labor supply. Farm bills can always be more efficient, but I would challange anyone that each one has brought greater aggregate welfare to the nation as a whole. Haggling over a couple more billion in the farm bill, when it will have no signficant impact on deficit dynamics, seems short-sighted to me. Particularly, if one notes at how successful farm bills have been to improving the farm economy and nation as a whole-- the prepodernence of evidence is overwhelming.
Posted by Mathew Elliott at 12:52PM CDT 09/17/12
AMEN,to comments posted by Matthew Elliott at 1252PM C.D.S.T. yesterday Well stated!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted by W Lee Deutsche at 11:26AM CDT 09/18/12
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