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Nearly all of ag wants farm bill action

DANIEL LOOKER 11/12/2012 @ 11:00pm Business Editor

On Tuesday, the day that Congress starts its lame-duck session, 235 groups representing nearly every facet of agriculture sent a letter to leaders of the House of Representatives asking for a vote on the 2012 farm bill.

"This legislation is of paramount importance to the diverse, bipartisan constituencies our organizations represent," the letter said. "Failure to pass a new five-year farm bill before the year’s end will create significant budget uncertainty for the entire agricultural sector, including the rural businesses and lenders whose livelihoods are dependent upon farmers’ and livestock producers’ economic viability."

The letter was sent to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD).

Groups signing on included National Farmers Union, National Corn Growers Association, the American Soybean Association, and a host of groups representing wheat, grapes, tomatoes, pears, and dairy production, among others. Allied industries including equipment manufacturers, crop insurance, and the American Society of Agronomy joined in.

As the letter puts it, "The undersigned organizations, representing the farming, livestock, specialty crop, feed, rural development, nutrition, health, conservation, woodland owners, municipalities, trade, manufacturing, agricultural research, crop insurance and renewable energy communities, respectfully request passage of a new five-year farm bill to be signed into law before the end of the legislative session in December 2012."

In a separate statement to the media, the Agriculture Energy Coalition said it has joined the push for a farm bill soon. The group includes lobbies for the ethanol industry.

“Expiration of the 2008 Farm Bill already has created economic uncertainty for U.S. renewable energy companies, threatening to stop the growth of a vital segment of the U.S. economy, strand private sector investments and eliminate good paying jobs," the coalition said. "A five-year extension of the Farm Bill with mandatory funding for the energy title is needed to keep these companies investing and creating jobs in the United States; a temporary extension of the already expired legislation would not provide certainty for businesses."

American Farm Bureau Federation didn't sign on, although the group has backed earlier efforts, and it also supports passage of a farm bill during the lame-duck session, which ends in late December.

Farm Bureau had hoped for farm bill passage before the election. "Now it's a lame duck must-do," the group's lobbyist, Dale Moore, said in its November 5 newspaper.

Conservation groups, including the National Association of Conservation Districts, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership signed on as well.

Some of the same groups also joined more than 40 conservation and environmental groups that wrote Boehner separately on Monday.

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