Local Reaction to Failure of the 2013 Farm Bill

There's no way to exaggerate the disappointment for agriculture. Four-years – dozens of hearings – a bipartisan committee vote and over 100 amendments on the House floor – and still the U.S. House rejected 195 to 234 the 2013 farm bill. Passage would have sent the bill directly to conference with the Senate that passed its bill last week. Now its fate is uncertain. Ag groups across the country are universally disappointed, as is SC Ag Commissioner Hugh Weathers:

“As you know, the farm bill has historically been a bi-partisian initiative, it was more regionally competitive than politically. But now it has sort of moved into the malaise of Washington.”

President of North Carolina Farm Bureau, Larry Wooten says what caused the bill to fail had nothing to do with production farming:

“It causes some uncertainty in the direction of agriculture. We will have to regroup and come back. We were not shocked but disappointed. The farm bill titles that pertain directly to production agriculture were held hostage by those on the right and the left that really had nothing to do with the part of the food bill that goes to farmers.”

Cuts to the food and nutrition segment of the farm bill is generally considered to have been the sticking point, and has been for some time. Wooten had these thoughts on taking those titles out of the farm bill:

“Traditionally, we have always held the opinion that the food and nutrition programs need to be part of the farm bill because we depend on those urban congressman for their votes. But the further this goes along, the more I think we need to discuss where we go from here.”

So, where do we go from here? Weathers:

“It is incumbent upon the industry to speak as unified as possible in the second attempt at it.”

And what if there’s no farm bill come October? Wooten had these thoughts:

“The uncertainty and the planning for 2014 and beyond will be an issue. One of the biggest issues in this farm bill is the funding for crop insurance and that has a big impact on producers in terms of securing operating loans.”

Weathers had this thought for house members moving forward:

"There is a quote that says ‘You cant get out of a problem with the same level of thinking that got you into the program.’”

SC Ag Commissioner Hugh Weathers and President of the NC Farm Bureau Larry Wooten.

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