Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX) led a bipartisan group of lawmakers in urging House of Representatives leadership to act swiftly to bring the 2012 Farm Bill to a vote before August. Cuellar joined 79 lawmakers, including Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R-SD) and Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT), in signing a letter encouraging House Leadership to take action on this bill so that farmers and producers are not left in limbo. The bipartisan letter was signed by 31 Democrats and 48 Republicans.
"Congress has an obligation to move swiftly to reauthorize the programs that feed American families," said Cuellar. "In the midst of a severe drought and with expiration dates on a number of farm-related programs barreling toward us, inaction carries potentially devastating consequences for many farmers, producers and American families. The 2012 Farm Bill isn't perfect yet, but let's debate it before the August recess and get a good bill to the President as quickly as possible."
If Congress does not act to reauthorize the farm bill, many existing programs--including disaster assistance and livestock and crop assistance--will expire on September 30, 2012. Failure to pass a new farm bill or extend existing policy would mean the elimination of many of the decades-old programs on which American farmers and producers rely. The interruption of these effective and economical programs would cause massive disruptions for farmers and producers and carry the risk of causing domestic food prices to skyrocket.
In the letter, the lawmakers wrote, "The message from our constituents and rural America is clear: we need a farm bill now. We ask that you bring a farm bill up before the August District Work Period so that the House will have the opportunity to work its will. We ask that you make this legislation a priority of the House as it is critically important to rural and urban Americans alike."
"Bringing this bill for debate on the House floor is the best way to make sure that the voices of farmers and families affected by this bill are heard," said Cuellar. "I am hopeful that we will use this process to give farmers, producers, and families relying on nutrition programs the strong and fair farm bill they deserve."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi echoed this letter and also called upon the House majority leadership to take up this bill. "Inaction by the Republican congressional leadership means that disaster assistance will expire at the very time when we are experiencing the worst drought in 50 years; rural America is already facing the termination of livestock and crop assistance in the midst of this crisis," Pelosi wrote in a statement. "Inaction means economic, nutritional and employment crisis throughout our rural communities."
Cuellar is a member of the House Agriculture Committee and joined his colleagues on the Committee to pass the Farm Bill on July 12 with a strong bipartisan vote of 35-11.