Thursday, August 2, 2012

McCaskill to US House -- Get Off the Sidelines on Farm Bill

U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, who helped lead the successful effort to pass the Senate’s bipartisan Farm Bill in June, released the following statement amid reports that the U.S. House of Representatives may abandon efforts to pass the Farm Bill, leaving farmers, ranchers, and rural communities in limbo for the rest of the summer:

“I have a simple message for members of the U.S. House: get off the sidelines and pass this Farm Bill. It’s been more than a month since the Senate came together to pass a bipartisan bill, crucial to jobs and the livelihoods of our rural families and businesses, and there’s just no excuse for the House’s failure to act. While I clearly support an extension of disaster assistance for our livestock producers, it’s past time for these politicians to put their differences aside and work together to ensure our farmers and ranchers have the certainty they need as they face the worst drought in a half-century.”

According to press reports today, the U.S. House is abandoning efforts to pass the Farm Bill, or even an extension of current farm programs. Instead, House leadership is considering extending only some disaster assistance programs—a move that, while necessary to make resources available during the drought, would still leave farmers and ranchers across the country in limbo. Reportedly, House members will also seek to pay for the disaster assistance programs by cutting other farm programs that have broad support from agriculture groups, signaling certain opposition to the disaster relief measures.

The Farm Bill approved by the Senate reauthorizes essential livestock disaster assistance programs, supports agriculture jobs, strengthens resources for family farms and ranches, and reduces the national deficit by more than $23 billion.  The Farm Bill—approved with a strong bipartisan vote of 64-35—also provides crucial resources that allow Missouri’s crop producers to manage risk and new programs that help Missouri’s dairy farmers to cope with high costs.

The Farm Bill  is one example of several pieces of legislation important to American jobs that passed with strong bipartisan support in the Senate, only to languish in the U.S. House—including Postal Service reform legislation, which continues to be delayed even as the Postal Service defaults on payments to fund retiree health benefits, as well as the Highway Jobs Bill earlier this year.

McCaskill also launched an online resource center last week on her website to provide a place Missourians can go for information ranging from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency office locations across the state, to a drought monitoring map updated weekly. Additionally, the page offers a direct link for farmers and ranchers to apply for water supply assistance through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.    

The drought online resource center is available on McCaskill’s website, HERE.

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