The farmers came to look at the farm equipment, but were interested in talking farm policy. A packed seminar room heard Hoosier Chuck Conner predict little hope for a Farm Bill to be passed this year. The former Under Secretary of Agriculture and now head of the National Association of Farm Coops said, with the current atmosphere in Washington, there is little chance a Farm Bill will be adopted this year, “With Congress not working well together, I feel it will be very difficult to get any work done on the Farm Bill this year.” He said, unless a bill can be crafted by Memorial Day, it will have no chance of being passed until after the election.
Conner said another factor preventing work on farm policy is the fact that agriculture has not decided what it wants in a Farm Bill, “Farm Bureau struggled with this last week, and their proposals are different than the corn and soybean groups and sharply different than what the cotton and rice folks want.” He added that the work done so far by the House and Senate Ag committees may be a good starting point. Conner said there is no clear consensus in rural America and that the issues, “Need more time to cook.”
Also appearing on the program was Indiana Congressmen Marlin Stutzman, a member of the House Ag committee. He told HAT that Congress will likely delay action until after the election, “In Washington they like extensions, and I think a year from now we will be will living with a Farm Bill extension.” Stutzman said he and the Ag Committee will continue to work on a new Farm Bill, but admitted there is a 50/50 chance there will be no new legislation until 2013. Stutzman and Indiana Senator Richard Lugar crafted a Farm Bill proposal last year that is being considered as a basis on which to build a new Farm Bill.
Both men agreed that, when a Farm Bill is adopted, direct payments will be eliminated and the CRP will be trimmed. Conner said 10 million acres of US farmland could be removed from the CRP and put back into production.
First day crowds at the show were excellent as good spring-like weather and record farm income brought out farmers from a three state area. The show continues on Wednesday with extended hours until 8pm. Hoosier Ag Today coverage of the Ft. Wayne Farm Show is made possible by Seed Consultants.