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Agricultural News

Walz Leads Coalition Calling on Speaker Boehner to Move Farm Bill to Conference

Thu, 01 Aug 2013 15:56:43 CDT

Walz Leads Coalition Calling on Speaker Boehner to Move Farm Bill to Conference
The following is a news release from the office of Representative Tim Walz:

Today, Representative Tim Walz (MN-01)-the Ranking Member of House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry-led a broad coalition of 50 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives in sending a letter to Speaker Boehner urging him to take immediate action and convene a Farm Bill conference committee before adjourning for a five-week August recess. With only nine legislative working days scheduled by the Majority for the entire month of September, moving to conference now and allowing Members time to work out an agreement during August is critical to the Farm Bill's success.

"Our farmers and ranchers go about their business quietly every day and simply expect Congress to do the same. With only nine legislative work days scheduled in September, we're burning daylight we don't have," Representative Walz said. "The Farm Bill was once a place where Congress could get results; where pragmatic problem solving trumped partisan ideology. Let us return to that mind frame, reject rigid ideology, and work together during August to get a bipartisan Farm Bill signed into law before the end of September. Rural America and the rest of the country can't wait."

With both chambers having passed different versions of the Farm Bill, a conference must be called to resolve the differences between the two bills before a final bipartisan Farm Bill can be signed into law. While the Senate formally requested a conference two weeks ago, Majority leadership in the House has refused to take action, further delaying this important legislation and putting its future in doubt.

Why it Matters:

The Farm Bill affects and gives certainty to everyone. It works to increase America's energy independence, protect critical wildlife and hunting habitat, give producers certainty to make planting and hiring decisions, and give consumers certainty in the form of steady prices at the grocery store.

For example, if a new Farm Bill is not passed milk could cost upwards of $8 a gallon in 2014.

The 49 Members joining Walz in calling on Speaker Boehner to convene a Farm Bill conference before the August recess represent both rural and urban districts and are as follows:

Rep. Ron Barber (AZ-02), Rep. Ami Bera (CA-07), Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01), Rep. Julia Brownley (CA-26), Rep. Cheri Bustos (IL-17), Rep. Matthew Cartwright (PA-17), Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27), Rep. Joe Courtney (CT-02), Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16), Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Rep. Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Rep. William Enyart (IL-12), Rep. Sam Farr (CA-20), Rep. Bill Foster (IL-11), Rep. Lois Frankel (FL-22), Rep. Marcia Fudge (OH-11), Rep. Pete Gallego (TX-23), Rep. John Garamendi (CA-03), Rep. Joe Garcia (FL-26), Rep. Alcee Hastings (FL-20), Rep. Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Rep. Bill Keating (MA-09), Rep. Dan Kildee (MI-05), Rep. Ron Kind (WI-03), Rep. Anne Kirkpatrick (AZ-01), Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02), Rep. Jerry McNerney (CA-09), Patrick Murphy (FL-18), Rep. Dave Loebsack (IA-02), Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-12), Rep. Jim McDermott (WA-07), Rep. Jim McGovern (MA-02), Rep. Mike McIntyre (NC-07), Rep. Mike Michaud (ME-02), Rep. Rick Nolan (MN-08), Rep. Ed Pastor (AZ-07), Rep. Gary Peters (MI-14), Rep. Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Rep. Charlie Rangel (NY-13), Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Rep. Kurt Schrader (OR-05), Rep. David Scott (GA-13), Rep. Louise Slaughter (NY-25), Rep. Bennie Thompson (MS-02), Rep. Niki Tsongas (MA-03), Rep. Juan Vargas (CA-51), Rep. Filemon Vela (TX-34), Rep. Peter Welch (VT-00).

Please find the text of the letter below:

August 1, 2013

The Honorable John Boehner      
U.S. House of Representatives   
Washington, DC 20515    

Dear Mr. Speaker:

On July 18, 2013, the U.S. Senate requested a conference with the U.S. House of Representatives to resolve differences regarding H.R. 2642, legislation commonly known as the Farm Bill. We respectfully ask for your support in the naming of a Farm Bill conference committee before the House adjourns for the August recess.

As you know, the extension of the 2008 Farm Bill expires on September 30, 2013. Congress will be in session only 11 days before this expiration. It is imperative that conferees are named before the August recess to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of H.R. 2642. This will give conferees the time to prepare a conference report that can be passed by September 30. Without your consent to permit formal conference negotiations, neither the Senate nor House will name conferees. Consequently, our best opportunity to enact this legislation before the current law expires will be squandered.

Actions by members of the Republican Leadership, the Republican Conference, and outside conservative groups have demonstrated that they do not want a conference committee to begin its work, preferring instead no Farm Bill at all. But hundreds of groups representing a broad range of issues with different and often conflicting priorities agree on one thing: it is now time to work together in regular order through the conference committee process, find bipartisan compromise and finish the Farm Bill.

Additionally, as a practical matter, since a conference report must be signed by a majority of members from both the House and Senate, knowing who will be appointed conferees is needed to determine what kind of agreement is even possible. Given the length of time the House and Senate Agriculture Committees have been working on a Farm Bill, we have a clear picture of the issues that need to be resolved and staff-level negotiations will only accomplish so much. It is time to bring Members of Congress together to make the tough choices necessary to get a Farm Bill that can be passed by Congress and signed by the President.

We remain confident that if you would support beginning formal conference committee negotiations, Members of Congress would respond enthusiastically to returning to regular order, and conferees would put their August recess to good use by agreeing to a conference report that could be voted upon by both the House and Senate in September. Doing so will restore public confidence and prove that it is possible for Congress to meet its responsibilities to the American people.

We look forward to hearing from you on this important matter.




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