DELAY OF AG BILL CREATES UNCERTAINTY FOR U.S. FARMERS
Efforts will resume again this month to ensure adequate funding for the proposed farm bill, and farm groups, including the Alabama Farmers Federation, will continue to press the Senate to act on the bill when it returns Jan. 23.
Alabama Farmers Federation President Jerry Newby said quick resumption of deliberations on a new farm bill is essential for farmers.
"Commodity groups in the Federation are disappointed that the Senate did not vote on the farm bill before the end of the year," Newby said. "With a vote primarily along party lines, the Senate failed to get the necessary 60 votes needed to invoke cloture and bring up the farm bill."
Although the current budget resolution will last until April 15, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said the administration has sent a letter to Congress pledging the full amount of $73.5 billion for the farm bill. However, mounting deficits could make that an impossible pledge to fulfill, according to the Federation's Washington lobbyist Keith Gray.
Newby said farmers are concerned that adequate funding for farm programs may be difficult to obtain because of the delay.
"We will be working hard with Congress to move quickly in January to pass the farm bill and will be asking for adequate funding to help our farmers," he said."Quick passage of the farm bill is imperative so farmers can plan for next year and secure financing. A strong agriculture safety net is not only vital for our farmers but also for the economy and security of our entire nation."
Gray said there were many calls made to the Senate offices in December urging senators to support cloture, and it was obvious the senators felt the pressure.
Sen. Shelby is holding town meetings across the state this month and the Federation is working to arrange meetings with him, Sen. Sessions and commodity leaders to discuss the farm bill.