By Representative Jim Costa
The time for campaigning is over. Now is the time to work together to provide certainty for American families, businesses, and agriculture.
Our farmers nationwide work tirelessly tending to their crops and know that when it is time for harvest there is no rest until the job is done. We have put in the hours for bipartisan deliberation, but some in Congress seem willing to let the fruits of our bipartisan labor wither on the vine.
While speculation has swirled around the so-called fiscal cliff and what it means for our economy, Congress has missed many opportunities to act on other measures that will strengthen our economy and help businesses plan for the future. Not only is the farm bill one of these, it also saves billions of dollars over the next ten years.
For my district and those of many of my colleagues, agriculture is our primary industry. Fresno County, which I represent, generated nearly $5.372 billion in cash receipts last year. For us, economic growth is powered by what we grow in the soil of the San Joaquin Valley.
Rural America deserves security and certainty just the same as Wall Street does. And we can give them that.
This election showed that what the American people want most is for us to come together to put the country and our constituents first. Even before the election, members of the House Agriculture Committee and the Senate were working to do just that by passing the farm bill with wide bipartisan support.
The Senate cleared their version of the farm bill in June by a wide margin, 64-35. In July, we were able to garner broad, bipartisan support in the House Agriculture Committee as well, 35-11.
This is how the process is supposed to work, but instead House Republican Leadership called a timeout and went to the locker room before finishing the final quarter.
Half-hearted, drought relief legislation or short-term, piecemeal extensions are not enough to help American agriculture. There is no acceptable alternative to a five-year farm bill.
There are naysayers out there who believe we should wait until January to let the new Congress take up this measure. Our farmers, ranchers, and especially our dairymen are weathering a severe drought and are questioning if they'll be able to stay afloat into the New Year.
They cannot wait. We cannot wait.
Waiting is the easy way out and if there is one thing any of us know about American agriculture, it never takes the easy way out. Congress could learn something from that attitude.
We still have time to get this done. If the Speaker will only bring it to the floor for a vote, I am confident that the House will approve this measure.
This Congress has become experts in kicking the can down the road and putting off the problems of today. We have the opportunity to do what we were sent here to do, get things done.
Let's start with passing the farm bill.