Today, Representative Mike Michaud joined 50 of his House colleagues in sending a letter to Speaker John Boehner urging him to take immediate action and convene a Farm Bill conference committee before adjourning for a five-week August recess. The extension of the 2008 Farm Bill expires on September 30th, and Congress is schedule to be in session only 11 days for the entire month of September. Proceeding to conference now would allow House and Senate negotiators to work out the differences between the House and Senate bills before the current law's expiration.
"Maine farmers look at Washington and all they see is dysfunction. On this issue, I'd have to agree. Whether it's our dairy farmers or specialty crop growers, they need the predictability that a multi-year Farm Bill would provide the industry," said Michaud.
The full text of the letter sent today can be found below:
August 1, 2013
The Honorable John Boehner
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Mr. Speaker:
On July 18, 2013, the U.S. Senate requested a conference with the U.S. House of Representatives to resolve differences regarding H.R. 2642, legislation commonly known as the Farm Bill. We respectfully ask for your support in the naming of a Farm Bill conference committee before the House adjourns for the August recess.
As you know, the extension of the 2008 Farm Bill expires on September 30, 2013. Congress will be in session only 11 days before this expiration. It is imperative that conferees are named before the August recess to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of H.R. 2642. This will give conferees the time to prepare a conference report that can be passed by September 30. Without your consent to permit formal conference negotiations, neither the Senate nor House will name conferees. Consequently, our best opportunity to enact this legislation before the current law expires will be squandered.
Actions by members of the Republican Leadership, the Republican Conference, and outside conservative groups have demonstrated that they do not want a conference committee to begin its work, preferring instead no Farm Bill at all. But hundreds of groups representing a broad range of issues with different and often conflicting priorities agree on one thing: it is now time to work together in regular order through the conference committee process, find bipartisan compromise and finish the Farm Bill.
Additionally, as a practical matter, since a conference report must be signed by a majority of members from both the House and Senate, knowing who will be appointed conferees is needed to determine what kind of agreement is even possible. Given the length of time the House and Senate Agriculture Committees have been working on a Farm Bill, we have a clear picture of the issues that need to be resolved and staff-level negotiations will only accomplish so much. It is time to bring Members of Congress together to make the tough choices necessary to get a Farm Bill that can be passed by Congress and signed by the President.
We remain confident that if you would support beginning formal conference committee negotiations, Members of Congress would respond enthusiastically to returning to regular order, and conferees would put their August recess to good use by agreeing to a conference report that could be voted upon by both the House and Senate in September. Doing so will restore public confidence and prove that it is possible for Congress to meet its responsibilities to the American people.
We look forward to hearing from you on this important matter.
Rep. Mike Michaud (ME-02), Rep. Ron Barber (AZ-02), Rep. Ami Bera (CA-07), Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01), Rep. Julia Brownley (CA-26), Rep. Cheri Bustos (IL-17), Rep. Matthew Cartwright (PA-17), Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), Rep. Joe Courtney (CT-02), Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16), Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Rep. Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Rep. William Enyart (IL-12), Rep. Sam Farr (CA-20), Rep. Bill Foster (IL-11), Rep. Lois Frankel (FL-22), Rep. Marcia Fudge (OH-11), Rep. Pete Gallego (TX-23), Rep. John Garamendi (CA-03), Rep. Joe Garcia (FL-26), Rep. Alcee Hastings (FL-20), Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Rep. Bill Keating (MA-09), Rep. Dan Kildee (MI-05), Rep. Ron Kind (WI-03), Rep. Anne Kirkpatrick (AZ-01), Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02), Rep. Jerry McNerney (CA-09), Patrick Murphy (FL-18), Rep. Dave Loebsack (IA-02), Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-12), Rep. Jim McDermott (WA-07), Rep. Jim McGovern (MA-02), Rep. Mike McIntyre (NC-07), Rep. Rick Nolan (MN-08), Rep. Ed Pastor (AZ-07), Rep. Gary Peters (MI-14), Rep. Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Rep. Charlie Rangel (NY-13), Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Rep. Kurt Schrader (OR-05), Rep. David Scott (GA-13), Rep. Louise Slaughter (NY-25), Rep. Bennie Thompson (MS-02), Rep. Niki Tsongas (MA-03), Rep. Juan Vargas (CA-51), Rep. Filemon Vela (TX-34), Rep. Peter Welch (VT-00).