In the waning hours of 2012, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Vice President Joe Biden negotiated a nine-month extension of the Farm Bill that the Center for Rural Affairs criticized heavily.
“The farm bill extension measure attached to the fiscal cliff legislation passed by the House of Representatives late last night slashes investment in the future of small rural communities and family farming and ranching,” says Chuck Hassebrook, executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs in Lyons, Neb.
According to Hassebrook, many smaller, targeted programs that invest in proven strategies to create rural jobs, revitalize rural communities and initiatives to foster a new generation of family farmers and ranchers were completely left out of the final farm bill extension. The eleventh-hour deal also prevents farmers and ranchers from being able to improve soil and water conservation through enrollment in the Conservation Stewardship Program in 2013.
“We applaud the efforts of Senate Agriculture Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and House Agriculture Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK) who negotiated an agreement last weekend to address these crucial shortcomings,” explains Hassebrook. “But, regrettably their efforts were set aside in final negotiations over the fiscal cliff bill.”
The nine-month extension of the previous Farm Bill was attached to the complex fiscal cliff bill and passed the Senate early Tuesday and passed the House of Representatives less than 20 hours later.
“The message is clear: Despite high market prices, virtually unlimited commodity and crop insurance premium subsidies to mega farms remain uncapped, but beginning farmers and ruralcommunities are left twisting in the wind,” says Hassebrook. “And conservation of our precious land and water gets put on hold.”