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Indiana Agriculture Divided on Farm Bill

Indiana Agriculture Divided on Farm Bill

 

Indiana Pork Executive Director Josh Ternary

Indiana Pork Executive Director Josh Ternary

On Wednesday, the US House will vote on a new 5 year Farm Bill. The compromise reached over the weekend is being supported by most grain organizations, but not by livestock groups. At their annual meeting in Indianapolis on Tuesday, Indiana Pork, along with the National Pork Producers Council, urged rejection of the new Farm Bill. Pat McGonagall, with the NPPC, said failure to resolve the Country of Origin Labeling issue is the main reason for their opposition, “We were not able to get a fix to COOL in the final bill; and, as a result, the US pork industry will likely face trade retaliation from both Mexico and Canada, our 2nd and 3rd largest export customers.” He added that a compromise on the issue had been in the works several weeks ago, but fell apart before the final compromise.  In addition, the failure of the King amendment to make it into the final draft, dealing with a state’s ability to regulate production, is another reason for pork’s opposition.

 

Bob Stallman

Bob Stallman

Indiana corn and soybean groups, along with Indiana Farm Bureau, are urging passage of the legislation. The Indiana Soybean Alliance released this statement Tuesday: “American Soybean Association (ASA) and Indiana Soybean Alliance (ISA) Membership & Policy Committee have reviewed the legislation and determined that it represents the best interests of soybean farmers.  ASA and ISA support the bill, which provides for multiple soybean farmer priorities, most notably a flexible farm safety net that includes a choice between price-based and revenue-based risk management tools and maintains the decoupling of payments under both programs from current planted acreage.”  AFBF President Bob Stallman called for unity among ag groups to insure passage of the legislation which has taken over 2 years to craft, “It is imperative that all of agriculture unify behind this Farm Bill, for the good of the whole of American agriculture, consumers, our hard-working farm and ranch families, and the rural communities they support.”

 

Both Indiana Senators have indicated they will likely vote in favor of the new Farm Bill. Senator Joe Donnelly acknowledged the bill is not perfect but said there is more good than bad, “While the bill is not perfect, it represents a bipartisan agreement that will give the Hoosier ag community the certainty it needs to continue feeding our country and being a vital part of Indiana’s economy.  I call on my colleagues to quickly pass this bill and for the President to sign it into law.”  Senator Dan Coats also urged quick passage saying Indiana farmers have waited long enough, “I supported the bipartisan Senate version of the Farm Bill last year and will review this compromise when it becomes available. My hope is that it contains significant cost savings while ensuring our farmers have a broad safety net in the event of a natural disaster.”

But not all House members favor the bill. NE Indiana Congressman Marlin Stutzman has said he will vote against the bill, “The Farm Bill conference report is just more business as usual and reverses the victory for common sense that taxpayers won last year. This logrolling prevents the long-term reforms that both farm programs and food stamps deserve. By separating farm policy from food stamps last summer, the House gave Americans an honest look at how Washington spends their money. As a farmer and a conservative, I cannot vote to take a step backwards.” Conservatives in the Senate are also planning to vote against the Farm Bill when it comes up for a vote later this week. Kansas Republican Pat Roberts said, “This program simply creates planting and marketing distortions, instead of letting our producers respond to the free market and decide their crops based on supply and demand.”

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