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When congressional agriculture committees start hammering out details of the 2012 farm bill, “We aren’t going to be able to just make a carbon copy of the 2008 legislation,” says Tara Smith, director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation.““We’re facing by far the worst budget situation we’ve ever been in when writing a farm bill, and I think this will dominate the discussions."
Nation's financial situation is serious
Former House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said last year: “The financial situation facing this country is serious and we’re going to have to live within the budget we currently have when we write the next farm bill. I will not ask for money outside the farm bill budget.”
“One of the problems we’ve already seen with the 2012 legislation,” Smith says, “is that we’ve already had some money ‘stolen’ from the farm bill budget. The standard reinsurance agreement took $6 billion; a random piece of legislation on teachers jobs took $11.9 billion; and $2.2 billion was taken for child nutrition programs.
“Why should we care? Well, you can be sure the nutrition groups and others who lost funds are rallying their troops to try and insure that that money is replaced — and one of the places they’ll try and get that money is from farm programs.
“When we wrote the last farm bill, we got $10 billion extra from the Finance and Ways and Means Committees, most of which went for nutrition programs. We just aren’t going to have that this time. All the low hanging fruit — the easy pickings to fund farm bill programs — is gone.”