Across the nation, farmers’ livelihoods are withering in an intense, record-breaking drought.
Congress could be doing something about this right now – they could be passing the 2012 Farm Bill, which funds critical disaster assistance programs that are our farmers and ranchers’ safety net in times like these.
But are they working to pass the 2012 Farm Bill? No. Instead, late last week, in a surprise move, the majority leadership of the House of Representatives moved to extend parts of the 2008 Farm Bill through next year, including drought assistance but excluding programs like the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.
This isn’t a good-faith effort to help farmers. It’s a dirty, cynical trick. It uses the real need for disaster assistance as an excuse to attack all sorts of important programs and kick the farm bill can down the road until next year. This extension would:
- Make deep, unnecessary cuts to conservation programs – the very farm programs that reduce drought impacts.
- Strip all funding from dozens of programs that support beginning farmers, rural communities, and food entrepreneurs. (Including many that FarmLink depends upon such as BFRDP, OASTFR, and RMAP to name a few)
- Continue outdated and wasteful “direct payments” – despite bipartisan agreement in the House and Senate that our farm subsidy system needs major reform.
The House is set to vote on this sham extension this week. There’s no reason for this – there’s a draft 2012 Farm Bill ready and waiting in the wings. The House is instead choosing to play politics at the expense of farmers and ranchers.
Help us tell the House: we don’t need an extension - we need a better farm bill!