Collin Peterson Reflects on Farm Bill Passage and Challenges Yet AheadWed, 19 Feb 2014 15:58:14 CST
It took more than four years for what is officially known as the Agriculture Act of 2014 to be written and to make it through the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives and be signed into law. Reflecting on the bill’s history, Ranking Democrat Member Collin Peterson spoke recently with Mike Hergert, farm director with the Red River Radio Network in North Dakota. (You can hear the full interview by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story.)
Peterson said there were a number of reasons it took the bill so long to wend its way through the process. Some of the roadblocks were structural and some of them were due to personalities, he said.
“This is the first time the Senate went first. And because they don’t have the depth over in the Senate that we have in the House, they got themselves backed into some corners and it was hard to get them out.
“And then we had Boehner to deal with and, so, I had to give up on some of the dairy stuff or we’d have never had a bill.”
Peterson said the process of passing a farm bill has become so arduous that there may never be another one.
“I don’t know how you do it. It just gets harder and harder every time. There are fewer rural people, fewer that understand agriculture. You look at the ag committee in the House, there’s literally a handful of people that have background even on the ag committee and, in the Senate you’ve got almost nothing. So, it’s tough.”
Without the ability to pass further farm bills in the future, Peterson said this farm bill may keep getting extended after it runs out.
As far as the implementation of the bill is concerned, Peterson said the USDA is going to have to scramble to get its work done quickly. And even if the work does get done quickly, Peterson said farmers are going to have to analyze their operations carefully before making their selections of which safety-net options will best suit their needs. Even if implementation goes as smoothly as hoped, Peterson says farmers could still be in for some hard times if markets keep falling.
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