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Fate of farm bill depends on results of Tuesday’s election

BY CASSIDY RILEY | NOVEMBER 05, 2012 6:30 AM

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Officials in agricultural states such as Iowa are calling for the passage of the farm bill, and the outcome of Tuesday’s election could decide its fate.

When its last session adjourned, Congress had not approved the 2012 farm bill, and since then, representatives on both sides of the aisle in agricultural states have been calling for it to pass before the end of the year.

The farm bill is designed to secure a food supply for the country by providing subsidies for crop farmers. The bill also contains other programs such as food stamps and school-lunch programs.

Both Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, and challenger John Archer —running for Congress in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District — have made statements about the importance of the bill. Archer blames Congress’s inaction on political games and a broken system.

“The House Committee on Agriculture has a farm bill,” Archer said in a press release. “The Senate has a farm bill. But the one who is directly affected, the Iowa farmer, does not have a Farm Bill. This is a yet another unfortunate instance that clearly illustrates that Washington is broken. Both Democrats and Republicans in Washington need to put politics aside and make passing the farm bill a top priority, so the economic engine of Iowa, the family farmer, can help kick-start our economy.”

Loebsack defended his own actions encouraging a passing vote in the House.

“Our farmers and livestock producers deserve action on a long-term, reformed farm bill, and it is long past time that the House votes on a farm bill that provides certainty,” he said in an email statement. “I have repeatedly pushed leadership to bring a long-term farm bill to the floor and am disappointed that they chose instead to go home for an extended vacation to campaign.”

Tim Hagle, a University of Iowa associate professor of political science, said it is not surprising to see both parties supporting the farm bill in Iowa because of how heavily Iowa’s economy relies on agriculture.                       

Yet, he said, the reason the bill is being held up in the house is because House Republicans who are concerned about over-spending are looking for ways to cut parts of the bill that may not be considered crucial.

“Republicans are known for trying to cut spending,” he said. “The problem is, it puts Republicans in farm states in difficult positions because they want it passed, but the leadership in their party is holding it up, and it gives the Democrats something to complain about.”

William Edwards, an economics professor with a focus in agriculture at Iowa State University, said representatives from non-agricultural states are more likely to hold up the farm bill.

“Relatively speaking, it’s probably less of a concern in the House just because the rural states have less representation in the House,” he said.           

However, even farmers in not only the Midwest but also Johnson County have disagreements over the bill.

Local crop farmer Kurt Dallmeyer said he personally doesn’t care if the bill passes or not.

“To me, the government program is like welfare for farmers, and we don’t need that,” he said. “If we let supply and demand work the way it’s supposed to, the bad farmers would weed themselves out. If you let the free market take ahold, the free market would decide what a fair price is.”

Dallmeyer said he does take advantage of the money offered by the government but that he could live without it.

Steve Swenka, a local cattle farmer, said he thinks it is important the bill pass because farmers are trying to plan for next year, and they don’t know if they will have government subsidies to help them.

“In today’s farm economy, the farm bill is part of the puzzle,” he said. “Not having the farm bill provides a big hole in the equation as far as planning for next year.”


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