From 2013 Wheat Harvest to Farm Bill Politics, Terry Detrick Talks with Ron HaysFri, 28 Jun 2013 18:10:21 CDT
American Farmers and Ranchers President Terry Detrick said Oklahoma wheat farmers have experienced a "Jekyll and Hyde" year-to borrow a phrase from OSU's Kim Anderson. Some had no crop and some had a bumper crop. He spoke recently with Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays about this year's harvest and about where we go from here on the 2013 farm bill. (Detrick will be Hays's guest on Saturday's "In the Field" segment on News 9 about 6:40 a.m.)
"We probably had more of a crop than I expected to have with the late freezes," Detrick said. "I do think the overall Oklahoma estimate probably will be exceeded, what we had earlier estimated."
He said the resilience of this year's crop amazed him, how it survived the late freezes and was able to produce far more than had been expected.
Turning to matters in Washington, Detrick said he was very disappointed to watch how the 2013 farm bill went down to defeat in the House of Representatives after it looked like it had a good chance of passing.
"I watched the proceedings on C-SPAN until ten o'clock or so the night before and I went to bed thinking, 'Boy, this will be smooth tomorrow.' And then, at the last minute, a few bombshells were dropped on some amendments that I think had not been expected-for sure not requested-and it caused enough deterioration that there were enough votes dropped off both sides of the aisle that they just couldn't get it passed. I guess that's the first time in farm bill history that the House of Representatives did not get theirs passed."
Detrick said we may be beyond the era of bipartisanship and into an era of "tripartisanship." He said legislators now seem to occupy three camps: far right wing, far left wing, and the middle. For bills to be successful, he said, it takes votes from all three groups.
Getting those votes proved to be too difficult this time around and there have been calls that the farm portion of the bill needs to be severed from the nutrition title of the bill. Detrick said he doesn't believe that strategy will prove helpful in the long run.
"I do not think we can get a farm bill passed if we do not have the urban vote. There are two reasons why the welfare programs should be in the farm bill or in some bill--but it works well with the farm bill-they are a consumer of our product. And it serves in welfare's best interest to be able to continue to have a safe, dependable, adequate supply of food. And that is what farm policy is supposed to do for our country and for farmers in specific.
"I think if we take it out of the farm bill with the misperceptions of farming today I think it would be virtually impossible for us to have any kind of a farm policy."
If we are unable to get a farm bill passed, Detrick said, the results would be disastrous. There are some who have proposed a one-year extension to current law in the absence of a comprehensive farm bill.
"I certainly would prefer that over complete devastation of farm policy," Detrick said. "And as economic times improve, maybe there would be a different attitude in a year."
Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear Ron Hays's full interview with Terry Detrick.
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