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King: Will try farm bill again, hopefully

By Staff | Jun 21, 2013

WASHINGTON – Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said he was frustrated with the U.S. House of Representatives’ failure to pass the farm bill on June 20.

“I voted for it,” King said, a member of House agriculture committee. “I had a lot invested in it.”

On a 234-195 vote, the latest House version of the farm bill faltered due, King said, to 62 Republicans voting against and just 24 votes from Democrats.

Other Iowa delegation members all voted for the bill including Republican Tom Latham and Democrats Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack.

The House version would have cut $2 billion annually from the farm bill budget. A week earlier, the Senate passed a farm bill version that cut substantially less – $400 million annually.

On June 19, the White House vowed to veto any version of the farm bill that contained cuts to food stamps.

King said after the Fourth of July break he intends to join a process to determine what it might take to gain 23, from either or both parties to get another farm bill up for a successful vote.

However, he said he could not promise a renewed effort this year by the House, but he was hopeful for another run at getting a passable measure before the current farm bill extension expires on Sept. 30.

King assessed the damage saying that there were many GOP lawmakers who who wanted a larger percentage cut from the food stamps program than the 2.5 percent reduction proposed.

King said food stamp participation ballooned in past five years from 19 million to 28 million people.

“The economic decline cannot account for all of that,” King said, lashing out at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which he said has been actively getting food stamps into the hands of more people. He accused Democrats of “expanding the dependency class in the country.”

At the same time, he said there was less scant support from Democrat lawmakers for the bill, which is opposed to any cuts to the food stamp program.

However, he defended the 2.5 percent reduction as containing no reduction of resources for the needy.

Aside from this issue, King said, GOP support for the farm bill also centered on the Federal Crop insurance Program.

“Some think it is too generous,” King said, “especially to southern states.

“It’s not in Iowa, which came closer to anyone in paying their own way.”

Following the June 20 vote ag organizations weighed in with their disappointments over the farm bill’s failure.

The Iowa Corn Growers Association President Bruce Rowher said, “The 2013 Farm Bill vote was close and we have made every effort to be pro-active on our part as farmers to put policy in place to move the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act to passage.”

Rowher, a farmer from northwest Iowa and ICGA worked with its national organization “to put the ink on this crucial farm legislation and we are extremely disappointed in the House outcome. We thank our entire Iowa delegation for their support of this important legislation.”

Ray Gaesser, a farmer from Corning who serves on the ISA board of directors and is vice-president of the American Soybean Association, said U.S. farmers now face the expiration of farm bill programs on Sept. 30.

“We’re not sure of the next steps,” Gaesser said, “but do know that we’ll continue to work with groups such as ASA and our congressional delegation to help create the bill that farmers and consumers need.”

John Wilson, senior vice president of the Dairy Farmers of America, said even though an amendment earlier in the day had stripped the Dairy Market Stabilization Program from the underlying bill, DFA ” remained supportive of final passage of the farm bill to keep the momentum going on a bill that is vital to so many aspects of the American agriculture sector.

“Farm families across the nation rely on the provisions in the farm bill, and that they will continue to operate under outdated and inadequate policies is truly disappointing.”

The dairy industry, Wilson said, has shown its resiliency in the past, and continued optimism and action is the only option as it looks to the future.

Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., chairwoman of the U.S. Senate agriculture committee, said, “Twice the Senate has overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan farm bill that reforms farm programs, ends direct payments, cuts spending and creates American agriculture jobs.

“The House needs to find a way to get a five-year farm bill done. Maintaining the status quo means no reform, no deficit reduction and further uncertainty that slows growth in our agriculture industry.”

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