September 14, 2012
With Congress back on Capitol Hill for a short time and the Sept. 30 expiration of the current Farm Bill looming, farmers, ranchers and a variety of supporters congregated in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. The "Farm Bill Now!" rally drew hundreds of agriculture supporters from across the nation. The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), along with the National Farmers Union (NFU) hosted the event.
Joining the farmers and ranchers were participants from across the country, including congressional members and leaders from agriculture, conservation, energy, consumer and nutrition organizations. For a variety reasons, not the least of which involves the nation's worst drought in many years, the rally goers want Congress to get focused and pass a new, comprehensive, five-year Farm Bill before the 2008 Farm Bill expires. While the House and Senate each have passed their versions, the divide between the two is large and election politics will likely stall progress.
Organizers say the Farm Bill isn't just a bill for farmers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says one in every 12 American jobs relates directly back to the farm. Rally supporters encouraged Congress to reach agreement on the House Agriculture Committee and Senate-passed bills.
The event was endorsed by 88 organizations, including the American Sheep Industry Association, representing a broad range of commodity and specialty crops, livestock, dairy, state and local governments, energy and bio-based products, farm cooperatives and financial groups.
Congressional members who spoke at the event included include Sen. Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), chairwoman of the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, Sen. Jerry Moran (Kan.), Rep. Collin Peterson (Minn.), ranking member of the Agriculture Committee, and Rep. Kristi Noem (S.D.).