The National Wildlife Federation said if passed the bill would have been the worst in 25 years. In a statement released Thursday, NWF said, “The House bill failed any test of responsibility that taxpayer dollars wouldn’t be spent in ways that harm our land, water, wildlife and the public good. It’s critical to enact a five-year farm bill this year that protects conservation.”

“The House farm bill failed commonsense conservation standards, and it failed to get enough votes to pass,” said  NWF president and CEO Larry Sweiger. “Reasonable measures to protect taxpayers and natural resources must be included in a farm bill. The National Wildlife Federation will continue to fight for a farm bill that includes a link between conservation compliance and crop insurance and a National Sodsaver program.”

NWF singled out a “loophole” the organization says would have “lead to draining 1.5 to 3.3 million acres of wetlands and greatly increased soil erosion and nutrient pollution into our lakes, streams, rivers and coastal waters.

“It is outrageous that the House Agriculture Committee leaders opposed this wholly reasonable, basic conservation provision to protect the public good,” Schweiger said.

Earlier in the week, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack had encouraged passage of the bill during a trip to Lubbock, Texas. He pointed to several aspects of the proposal that would benefit agriculture and the nation.

“It has something for everyone,” Vilsack said, “and it’s important to say that in order to be able to encourage, urban and suburban legislators to understand that this is a bill that impacts their constituents just as much as it impacts somebody on a farm or ranch.”

He pointed out the economic protection for farmers the bill would have provided.

“There is a strong safety net commitment built on crop insurance and supplemented with a revenue protection program that will replace the direct payment system that has come under a lot of criticism,” he said. “There’s the credit—the ability of our work at USDA to provide credit assistance to farmers who might have a difficult time otherwise getting credit.

“There is the conservation title. There’s no question in my mind farmers and ranchers are the best stewards of our land, water and air, but they need help and assistance especially in this difficult time with the variation of climate that we’re confronting.”

Marketing, too, is an important aspect of the farm bill, he said. “The ability of producers not just to market in a commodity-based market operation, where sometimes larger operators have a bit of an advantage, but allowing that producer to have a direct relationship with the consumer by selling directly at a farmers market or in a grocery store or to a local school,” is important.

Funding agriculture research is a crucial aspect of a sound farm program, he said.

“There’s a research title that expands research and a commitment to research. In this particular bill there’s an opportunity to create new and leveraged resources for research by creating a foundation.”

For the moment, none of those positive aspects of the farm bill is going anywhere. The Senate Agriculture committee passed a farm bill earlier this year and committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow suggested that the House could put that proposal up for a vote.

Some observers believe work on another House bill could begin as early as next week. Others, like Peterson wonder where they can find common ground for the extreme factions in each party.

 

You may also like:

House farm bill fails on 195-234 vote

Drought, damaging storms create conundrum for High Plains cotton

Cotton and corn production estimates lower in latest WASDE report