Iowa Congressman Tom Latham greeted a report in The Hill newspaper that the House is "expected to include passage of a short-term farm bill" this week with continued frustration that action on a full five-year bill is not being considered.
"Farmers expect, need and deserve the certainty of a full five-year Farm Bill now. This short-term extension ensures that the current Farm Bill will not expire. However, a short-term extension is just as ineffective as the filed discharge petition in giving America's farmers certainty before the November elections. I will continue to work with all lawmakers, regardless of political party, to fight for the quick passage of a full long-term Farm Bill."
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.
"I share the disgust with so many Americans at how polarizing and political Washington has grown. The Farm Bill never was a partisan fight because ag state legislators traditionally ignored party ID and worked side by side to overcome the challenges and opposition the bill faces from more urban-based legislators. We really need to put farmers and people before politics on this one or the results for agriculture could be disastrous."
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.