by Ken Root
The push for a new farm bill has gotten off the ground quickly with announcements and commitments, but the political landscape has grown more charged every day.
The last farm bill was one of the few that moved through in Regular Order even though it was rejected once by the house.
House Agriculture Chair, Texas Republican Micheal Conaway at a committee organizational meeting this week on the upcoming farm bill negotiations vowed to move quickly.
“I’m going to be driven to get this thing done before it expires. That’s the first time in sixteen years we have done that. I know it’s a big, tall boast and goal, but if we don’t set good goals we won’t get there.”
That’s a ‘tall goal’ indeed, with Washington awash in political turmoil. Top Agriculture Democrat Collin Peterson adds.
“We got a lot of work ahead of us in this congress, and reauthorizing the farm bill is at the top of the list. I hope we can work together and get a good bill that can be signed in the law before the current bill expires on September of 2018. I think I speak for all of us on our side of the aisle when I say we want to be helpful, and are ready to get to work on this effort.”
That, as Senate Democrats boycotted or opposed key Trump cabinet confirmation votes in committee to protest the President’s refugee and other policy actions.
Senate Judiciary Chair and Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, presided over a party-line committee vote to report Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as the attorney general to the full Senate. It’s warned that Democratic filibusters could slow action on Trump Agriculture Secretary pick Sonny Perdue.
Grassley suggests farm bill work is tough enough, even with an ag secretary on board, and says continuing tough times with net farm income off by almost half since 2012, should help ag ‘hold the line’ against cuts to crop insurance and safety net payments.
Kansas Republican, Senate Ag Chair Pat Roberts, recently announced the first farm bill hearing for Thursday, February 23rd in Manhattan, Kansas.