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U.S. House Leaders Change Farm Bill Initiative

U.S. House leaders have been refusing to allow a floor vote on the 2012 Farm Bill and had instead proposed a one year extension of the existing Farm Bill.  But last night, that was taken off the table and a new proposal was put forth.  

The Farm Bill is considered every five years by the U.S. Congress.  It is the federal government’s key agricultural funding and policy bill, and is also the funding mechanism for food subsidy programs like food stamps.  The 2012 Farm Bill has been passed by the Senate and approved by the House Agriculture Committee.  But House Leaders have not moved the bill to the floor for a vote. Republican leadership had planned to bring a one year extension of the current farm bill to the floor.  But Tuesday night that was pulled, and leadership is now expected to move a drought relief bill to the floor.  New York Congressman Bill Owens says there is now confusion as to the fate of the 2012 farm bill.

Congressman Owens says they do not know yet what will be in the drought-disaster relief package.

New York Farm Bureau Spokesman Steve Ammerman says they are hoping that with the one year extension now off the table, it will open the door for the full 2012 Farm Bill to come forward.  But Ammerman says they are in the dark as to House leadership’s plans.

Rural Vermont Director Andrea Stander says the legislative change in direction has created considerable confusion in the agriculture community. Stander notes that while some kind of disaster-only bill may be on the House calendar for Thursday, no one knows what will be in it, nor how it would be paid for.

Congressman Bill Owens does not expect clarity from House leadership regarding drought nor Farm Bill legislation until later in the day.