The American Farm Bureau Federation joined more than 250 organizations on Wednesday calling on Congress to pass a new five-year farm bill as quickly as possible.
The groups sent a letter to the House and Senate agriculture committee members and leadership urging them to move ahead with a unified bill that preserves the “marriage” between nutrition and farm communities and preserve a five-year authorization for all programs.
A farm bill without a meaningful nutrition title will make it difficult, if not impossible, for the House and Senate to reach bipartisan agreement on a final version that can be signed by the president.
The letter was signed by organizations representing farmers and ranchers, conservation, rural development, forestry, energy, finance, trade and crop insurance companies.
The groups also cautioned legislators against repealing permanent law — which in the absence of a farm bill, reverts farm policy to the outdated policies established in 1938 and 1949.
For decades, the threat of those long-outdated policies has served as motivation for Congress to enact new farm bills, the letter states.
Repealing that permanent law would make it difficult to generate enough political pressure to adjust the commodity safety net provisions should conditions in agriculture change, the groups stated.
In addition, a reversion to permanent law would risk the reauthorization of other important farm and rural programs. Programs covering conservation, forestry, research, energy development, horticulture, trade, and others would be “left to the will of the appropriations process,” likely with limited funding and little opportunity to update or adjust them.
“Farm Bureau’s two overarching goals with the Senate-House conference are ensuring that permanent law is not repealed and a complete, unified farm bill continues,” AFBF President Bob Stallman said in a statement.
Conferees face several tough decisions on how to move forward on a unified farm bill that will pass the House and Senate when completed. But AFBF is confident that the leaders and members of both committees will continue demonstrating their commitment and ability to forge a bipartisan compromise, he said.
Farm Bureau will be working to make sure those efforts to provide safety net and risk management options that work for farmers in all regions are maintained and to help conference committee members achieve that outcome, he said.
“It is time to get the harvest in on the new five-year farm bill,” he said.