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National Grange Talks Farm Bill with PA Farm Organizations

By National Grange View From The Hill (10/7/11)

  OCTOBER 17, 2011 --

Our National Grange Legislative Director, Nicole Palya Wood, recently made a visit to Pennsylvania to serve on a panel focused on the new 2012 Farm Bill. The discussion was hosted by the Pennsylvania Council of Farm Organizations on September 19, led by National Grange Executive Committee member and PCFO President, Betsy Huber. The Council had invited representatives serving on both the Senate and House agricultural committees to hear their views on proposals for the new farm bill, as well as agricultural policy experts from the National Grange, the National Farmers Union, and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

The discussion centered around the current proposals being debated which already include drastic reductions to conservation, crop insurance, and disaster relief, and the elimination of direct and counter-cyclical payments. According to Mrs. Wood, when it comes to federal funding, the new 2012 Farm Bill could be “one of the most devastating farm bills in the last twenty years, and by far the leanest.” Numerous factors are contributing to its downfall, most notably the strained economy and a congressional desire to cut spending. Although the total annual farm bill accounts for only 2 percent of the federal domestic budget, and farm programs are only one quarter of 1 percent of the federal domestic budget, the debt debate is the greatest potential challenge for the agriculture committees, according to Jake Kuhns from Representative Holden’s office (D-PA). Kuhns went on to say; “the future of these programs is being decided outside of these authorizing committees,” and the Ag committees, who have the greatest knowledge of these programs, need to be involved in funding decisions.

All representatives present agreed that something must be done to sustain and improve the farm bill, and Liz Hermsen of Senator Bob Casey’s office assured the panel that the Senate Ag Committee has plans to construct a proposal to be sent to the new super committee on funding for agriculture programs. However, she did reiterate that “farmers were going to have to do more with less.” Representative Glenn Thompson (R-PA) added, “America is blessed with an affordable, high-quality and safe food supply, and I don’t want to compromise that.”

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