News Column

Boehner Urged to Reanimate Farm Bill

July 10, 2013
Speaker John Boener (file photo)

More than 500 farm groups wrote House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, July 2 to urge him to bring the full farm bill back to the House floor as soon as possible, while House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., defended the single bill and Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., said he thinks he is making headway with his idea of splitting the bill into two.

"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," 532 groups wrote Boehner.

"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 farm bill forward," the letter said.

The letter was signed by the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union and all major commodity groups, as well as banking, crop insurance and energy groups. It did not include signatures from anti-hunger groups, which have objected to any cuts to the food stamp program.

But Bob Greenstein of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities told Agweek the farm and nutrition programs should be kept in one bill. A single bill, Greenstein said, has produced sounder, more sustainable farm and nutrition policy.

Meanwhile, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., at home in his district, told his constituents he is under fire from special interests in Washington, the Tulsa World reported.

"I'm under attack by those people," Lucas said. "They're coming after me. They are all special interest groups that exist to sell subscriptions, to collect seminar fees and to perpetuate their goals.

"You've got to understand: They don't necessarily want a Republican president or a Republican Congress," he continued. "... They made more money when (Democrat) Nancy (Pelosi) was speaker. ... It's a business."

In Minnesota, Peterson also said he would vote against a food stamp bill if it is separate from the farm bill.

Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, suggested bringing up the bill without the amendment sponsored by Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., that imposed work requirements, DTN reported.

Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., told tea party activists from Americans for Prosperity that his colleagues are rallying behind the idea of splitting the bill, The Hill reported, and the Club for Growth said splitting the bill will not be enough to get that group's support, CQ Roll Call said.

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