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Congress Leaves Farmers in Limbo
Lawmakers went home for a month-long recess on Aug. 3, unable to agree upon a farm bill or drought-aid legislation for distressed ranchers and livestock farmers.
Prior to leaving for August, the House passed the Agriculture Disaster Assistance Act of 2012 (H.R. 6233) by a vote of 223-197, but the Senate refused to take up the bill before adjourning. The $383 million drought measure was the House’s last-ditch attempt to provide relief for farmers after the failure of its Agriculture authorization legislation.
Many House Republicans took umbrage at the price-tag of a five-year farm bill (costing roughly $500 billion), so a one-year extension with drought aid was floated until being scuttled by leadership just before a final vote due to a lack of support. Republicans were unwilling to extend current spending in areas like food stamps and direct cash payments to farmers, while Democrats refused to take on a stand-alone drought bill without the promise of a five-year reauthorization bill.
Although the Senate already passed its version of the farm bill, don’t expect the House to take on the legislation before Election Day. Agricultural subsidies and food stamp cuts are divisive issues within the GOP, and Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio) is unlikely to bring up any uncertain measures before the election. However, things could change when lawmakers return home and hear from their constituents about the devastating impact the drought is having on farmers and ranchers.
Article Date: 2012-08-06
Source: Associated Equipment Distributors
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