Iowa Congressman Tom Latham released the following statement today with an update on efforts to push for renewal of the Farm Bill with a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives and his decision to sign the Farm Bill discharge petition filed last week.
"Unfortunately, a recent newspaper report that pointed to a House vote this week on a short-term Farm Bill extension is not accurate, and like the consequences of this year's drought, America's farmers have again been hung out to dry with complete inaction. Inaction on the Farm Bill is neglectful and unacceptable, and the agriculture community expects, needs and deserves better.
"I warn farmers that the Farm Bill discharge petition does not provide any quick certainty to the process. Even if the petition receives the required support this week, which is highly unlikely, it would not provide for a vote on the five-year Farm Bill prior to late November -- long after the current bill expires.
"My signature on this discharge petition will be a demonstration of my frustration with the lack of progress in Congress on the issue and a symbol of solidarity with Iowa agriculture and other farm state legislators to show that we must all be unified to accomplish better solutions.
"The worst result of the past year is that the Farm Bill is now being used as a political football for campaign purposes. We must shed that tactic and join together to accomplish certainty for the American farmer. I stand ready to work with anyone, regardless of political party, to put people before politics and progress before partisanship to move a full Farm Bill forward towards reality."
The most recent five-year farm bill, the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, became law in May of 2008. This legislation expires at the end of the current fiscal year, September 30, making it necessary for Congress and the White House to enact new legislation, either long-term or short-term, to extend agriculture programs beyond September 30th.
Efforts to push a vote on the Farm Bill through discharge petition, that is being called "highly politicized" by the newspaper, would still not force a quick solution on consideration of a full five-year bill. Legislative rules dictate that, even if the petition somehow garnered the 218 signatures needed, which according to The Hill would be unlikely because "large Democratic support" of the current bill is "elusive", it would still not force a vote on the bill until very late November at the earliest.
Latham, a senior member of the House Agricultural Appropriations subcommittee, has repeatedly called for quick House action on a full five-year Farm Bill. He joined Iowans, members of the agriculture community and fellow lawmakers last Wednesday to rally on U.S. Capitol grounds in favor of a new five-year Farm Bill and has signed a bipartisan letter to House leadership asking for quick action on a full five-year bill.