Earlier this week at the Beltwide Cotton Conference in San Antonio, Mark Lange, president of the National Cotton Council spent some time with Southern Farm Network special correspondent Randall Weisemann discussing pressing business in Washington that will affect agriculture, not the least of which will be the farm bill:
“I am really afraid that this congress has done all of agriculture a disservice because the one year extension didn’t make any cuts. So when committees pick up the next round of talks about farm policy, they are going to have to shoe horn in five years of cuts into four years of farm bill. They are still going to have to meet the same targets they had to meet before. There aren’t any savings in this one year extension.
I think we had some good agreement in agriculture about what we could do with some of the provisions, but they have to achieve greater savings and go back and revisit all of this.
One of the things that I hope they could do is get together ASAP, because that usually means they can get in and lock down a budget number. The longer it takes the more uncertainty about what that budget number will be. The problem now for agriculture is that the fiscal cliff legislation didn’t resolve the debt ceiling. We will need congress to take action on that in February. They also did not resolve sequestration, its simply postponed for 60 days. So congress will have to act in February to avoid sequestration because they don’t want to see that on defense spending because of the 1000s of jobs that are put at risk and the hazard to national security.
Ag appropriations will still be very important. We have important work to do to finish boll weevil eradication and we need support for our research. There is another cliff out there that congress cant avoid. They did a continuing resolution right before they adjourned for the election and it supplied the funds for the government to operate through March 27. If they take no action then the government has no money to operate that next day. This will occupy a great deal of activity of congress.”
Mark Lange, President of the National Cotton Council.