By Frank Lewis
U.S. Representative Brad Wenstrup (R-OH-2) says many key agriculture and nutrition reforms were missing when the House of Representatives passed a farm bill re-authorization this week. Wenstrup said they were reforms that had added over the summer of 2013, which he said would both better use existing resources and save taxpayer dollars.
“Our farmers deserve certainty from Washington, but our taxpayers also deserve to know that their money is spent wisely. It’s unfortunate that Washington has transformed a needed farm bill into a bloated spending bill that goes far beyond the focus of our agricultural community,” Wenstrup said. “While I am glad our farmers have finally gained certainty for the next 5 years, I could not support a farm bill where 80 percent of spending doesn’t go towards agriculture.”
Wenstrup commended Representative Frank Lucas, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, on working through extensive negotiations over the last couple years and taking conservative concerns into account. The historic move by the House of Representatives to split the Farm Bill into separate agriculture and nutrition legislation was unable to overcome strong opposition from the Senate and President.
The Agri-Marketing website also said several items were missing from the bill including payment limits which had been removed from the conference committee’s final agreement that passed on Monday.
“These have all be watered down to the point that they will likely have little or no effect,” Iowa Senator Charles Grassley said.
Also missing, according to Agri-Marketing, was a dairy provision. The dairy package included in the farm bill that came out of the conference committee on Monday includes the margin insurance program with no production management provision.
The farm bill also does not include the so-called “King amendment”. That was Iowa Congressman Steve King’s plan to prevent states like California from imposing their own animal welfare standards on farm goods brought in from other states.
The bill did receive the endorsement of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.
“Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that benefits all Ohioans by ensuring food and farm security for both consumers and farmers. The farm bill demonstrates fiscal responsibility, provides a needed safety net for farmers, protects important nutrition and food access programs and provides resources to help farmers protect the environment,” a news release from OFBF said. “We would like to thank House agriculture committee members Reps. Marcia Fudge and Bob Gibbs for their leadership in addition to all of Ohio’s House members who voted in favor of this important legislation. We now ask members of the Senate to also pass this farm bill agreement when it comes to them early next week. We appreciate Senate Agriculture Committee member Sherrod Brown’s leadership in advocating for passing the farm bill in the Senate and for his work on the conference committee.”
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 252, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.