House Plays Politics While Farm Bill Expires

Statement By Justin Tatham, Union Of Concerned Scientists

Published Oct 1, 2012

WASHINGTON (October 1, 2012) – On September 14, Congress packed up and headed home, leaving behind crucial legislation that won’t be decided until the legislative session resumes in November. This includes the Farm Bill, which officially expired yesterday, putting countless programs at risk.

Below is a statement by Justin Tatham, senior Washington representative for UCS’s Food & Environment Program:

“It’s a shame that the House leadership decided to leave Washington without finishing the Farm Bill. Congress’ failure to act is creating tremendous uncertainty for our nation’s farmers, who rely on countless food and agricultural programs that assist with the production of healthy food for millions of Americans.

“Congress must put politics aside and finish a new Farm Bill this year. Temporarily extending the 2008 Farm Bill is just not acceptable. Earlier this year, the Senate crafted a Farm Bill that would provide more support for healthy food and farms as well as address inequities in farm subsidy programs, which currently benefit industrial agriculture at the expense of public health and the environment. The House should take up and build upon the Senate’s framework when they return to Washington in November.

“Failure to pass a new Farm Bill this year will not only negate the improvements made in the Senate bill, but could lead to the expiration of a number of programs that are critical for producing the healthy, organic, and local food that Americans want and need.

“Absent action from Congress our national farm policies could revert to antiquated farm policies from 1949 on January 1, 2013, essentially inflating the price of many commodity crops. And if this 1949 clause were to be enacted, it would be bad for farmers, bad for consumers and bad for the economy.

“Holding off on passing a new Farm Bill until the political situation in Washington changes might seem sensible to House Representatives, but American farmers and consumers deserve a farm bill that will help promote healthy farms and deliver healthy food to our tables."