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Farm bill extension withdrawn

DANIEL LOOKER 07/31/2012 @ 5:54pm Business Editor

The House leadership, unable to muster support to pass a 2008 farm bill extension, has withdrawn the bill and will consider a separate measure to offer livestock farmers drought assistance, say farm group lobbyists.

In an email to Agriculture.com, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas responded to this development with the following statement Tuesday:

“My priority remains to get a five-year farm bill on the books and put those policies in place, but the most pressing business before us is to provide disaster assistance to those producers impacted by the drought conditions who are currently exposed.  The House is expected to consider a disaster assistance package on Thursday and I encourage my colleagues to support it.  Beyond that, I will continue to work with my leadership, Ranking Member Peterson and our members to determine the best path forward.  The challenges our farmers and ranchers are currently facing only underscores how important it is that we complete a five-year farm bill this year.” 

One of thirteen conservation groups that were strongly opposed to the extension bill reacted favorably to the news.

"The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is very pleased that the House will not consider the one-year farm bill extension," the group said. "The best way for Congress to address disaster assistance and help farmers through this severe drought is to pass a new five-year farm bill reform package.  Though they differ widely on reform, both the Senate-passed bill and the House Committee-passed bill include disaster assistance for farmers and ranchers.  Both bills also fund the tools that help farmers prepare for unpredictable and extreme production conditions -- the conservation programs that reward farmers for proactive smart farm management.  Funding a short-term disaster package by cutting conservation programs would be like cutting off your nose to spite your face -- ugly and debilitating.  NSAC would vigorously oppose a stand alone disaster package funded through cuts to farm conservation.  We are not opposed to a disaster assistance bill provided farm conservation funding is not raided in the process."

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