« Agriculture

Federal Agricultural Reform and Risk Management Act or FARRM Imminent?

by Dan Cash

So, while there’s many a slip twixt the cup and lip, those lips that are saying a new farm bill is imminent (that’s Washingtonspeak for “eventually”, as opposed to “never”.) May just have something here.  For one thing, if the two-year campaign in the House, to let nothing proposed by the President or the U.S. Senate get any traction was intended to run the Presidential campaign off the rail, it didn’t work.  So, now let’s get back to work

By the way, before we get too far into this, did you notice the new spelling of “FARRM, with two Rs.  That’s just one of those silly acronym things.FARRM, with two Rs, isn’t a word at all.  It’s the acronym made up from the first letters of the new legislation title, which is Federal Agricultural Reform and Risk Management act.  Now, on with the debate, discuss, write and rewrite, that is part of the markup, in both the Senate and House.  They, of course, have their own versions, one different from the other in some respects.  And, we are told, there may still be elements of the proposed new bill that absolutely will not pass muster with committee or sub-committee member.

All we can hope is, the major concerns of the most significant elements of our agriculture picture can be satisfied. Michigan’s Debbie Stabenow chairs the Senate committee - - a Democrat of course - - and what she wants in that new legislation will carry a lot of weight. She appears to be well-regarded in the Senate - - there must have been others who wanted that chairmanship, and she grabbed the ranking Republican on that committee to help her put the thing together.  Coming into this past weekend, we understand Senate Majority Leader Harry Reed wants the Senate to take up the farm bill this month. May 24th starts another Congressional recess, to observe Memorial Day.  New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says the bill could move on Harry Reed’s schedule, and that there may be small changes to come from committee, but not many.

About all we heard from the House last year was, “It’s going nowhere . . . . “ and it didn’t.

Now, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says he’s committed to moving the farm bill this summer. But, Not So Fast, Mr Cantor!!  There are some hardnosed conservatives in the House who do not like farm subsidies - - calling them “corporate welfare”  Those same conservatives have also been pushing for deep cuts in the food stamp program.  Democrats probably won’t go for that..  Senator Stabenow, and Chairman Frank Lucas in the House, both have said they want to finish the farm bill before completing reauthorization of the Commodity Futures Trading Comission.

That may be another can of worms!

Karl Guenther is a retired Kalamazoo farm broadcaster and can be reached at khguenther@att.net. He is a member of Michigan Farm Bureau and an emeritus member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting.