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Farm bill support has typically come from moderates from both Democrat and Republican parties, but that group has become smaller with recent elections, making a farm bill harder to pass.
Jimmy dodson, NCC chairman, address P.I.E. tour in Corpus Christi.
Little middle ground left
"I guess some of you are probably wondering what is going on with the farm bill at this stage," he said. "If you are in that place, that's exactly where I am. We are working very hard to get this done and have a lot of friends in Congress. But one of the problems we are having is that for generations politicians from both parties have worked together to pass a farm bill, but we are not seeing that kind of cooperation now."
He says recent elections have pushed Republicans farther right and Democrats farther left and there are not as many elected officials who are nearer the middle of the aisle where he says traditional farm bill support has come from and where it is generally the strongest.
"The disconcerting thing is this trend may continue, and some members of Congress who are not necessarily our friends say maybe this will be the last multi-year farm bill we will have—if we get it passed at all. I hope this is not true."
Dodson says a highway bill passes through Congress each year, which is an appropriations type bill. He says he has heard that there are a few lawmakers who are suggesting this is the type of legislation that should be enacted to support agriculture. But such a bill would mean no continuity and farmers would never know from year-to-year what level of support they may or may not receive.
For high investment operations like farming and ranching, a bill of that nature would be devastating because there would be no way to plan, which is an important requirement for agriculture.
"You should also be aware that we are facing a challenge this year in addition to the politics of the farm bill. Because we lost to Brazil in a World Trade Organization (WTO) case, that forced us to tailor our safety net to be WTO compliant, you’re seeing a little different proposal from cotton this year than you have ever seen before."
But he assured producers that while those changes may look different, they are designed to provide about the same level of funding in the farm bill as before, but in such a way as to conform to trade requirements.