WASHINGTON — Get back to work.
The National Farmers Union, the American Farm Bureau
Federation and more than 500 other agriculture, conservation, rural development,
energy and other groups are getting vocal about the lack of a new farm bill and
the U.S. House’s continuing failure to pass the legislation.
The groups, which represent millions of voters from the East
Coast to the West Coast, from the Great Plains to Texas and the Gulf Coast, want
the House of Representatives to get back to work on a farm bill. The groups
signed on to a letter sent to John Boehner, speaker of the house, dated July 2.
“America’s agriculture, conservation, rural development,
finance, forestry, energy and crop insurance companies and organizations
strongly urge you to bring the farm bill, (H.R. 1947, the Federal Agriculture
Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013) back to the floor as soon as possible,”
the letter reads.
The groups, which represent interests from the environment,
farmland preservation, rural development, commodity crops, including produce,
fiber and forestry and livestock, agribusinesses, hunting and food companies,
are urging Boehner and the U.S. House to maintain a unified farm bill when
lawmakers return from their Independence Day vacation.
“We believe that splitting the nutrition title from the rest
of the bill could result in neither farm nor nutrition programs passing and urge
you to move a unified bill forward,” the groups said in their letter.
Boehner was unable to muster enough yea votes in the
GOP-majority House to pass its latest version of the bill, with 234 nays and 195
yeas. The Senate passed its version of the farm bill on June 10 on a 66-27 vote.
“Farm bills represent a delicate balance between America’s
farm, nutrition, conservation and other priorities and, accordingly, require
strong bipartisan support. It is vital for the House to try once again to bring
together a broad coalition of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to provide
certainty for farmers, rural America, the environment and our economy in general
and pass a five-year farm bill upon returning in July,” the groups said.
The 2008 farm bill was extended at the end of 2012. That
extension expires on Sept. 30.
The NFU board of directors also passed a resolution on July
1 that expressed the group’s disappointment with the House in failing to pass a
new farm bill.
“The expiration date of the 2008 farm bill has already
lapsed once, leading to an extension to Sept. 30, 2013. Congress cannot allow
the bill to expire again, we simply cannot afford it,” the group said in its
The NFU resolution also called for maintaining a unified
“Some have suggested splitting farms programs and nutrition
programs into separate bills. Not only would this be a jarring disruption to the
historic coalition of urban, rural and conservation groups, it would also likely
effectively kill both bills, producing no legislative action for either,” the