FARM BILL NOW!
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Petitions and rallies were used this week to persuade Congress to move forward with farm legislation.
“Today (Tuesday, Sept. 11) the member owners and employees of Dairy Farmers of America delivered nearly 2000 signatures on a petition urging Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to schedule a floor vote on H.R. 6083, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2012,” stated John Wilson, senior vice president of the nation’s largest dairy cooperative.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, (Sept. 12), the National Farmers Union and American Farm Bureau Federation were rallying members to add their voices to help bring movement to the stalled legislation.
The so-called “Farm Bill Now!” included legislative representatives, agricultural leaders and hundreds of farmers and ranchers from across the country. They came together in chorus on the U.S. Capitol grounds to encourage Congress to pass a new, comprehensive, 5-year farm bill before current farm programs expire at the end of September.
“The sheer magnitude of the diversified support for this rally is a testament that, while we may all have wide-ranging and oftentimes divergent policy priorities, our primary policy at this critical moment in time is to see a complete, 5-year farm bill passed into law by the end of September. I’m hopeful that our unified voice gets heard by Congress loudly and clearly at Wednesday’s rally,” said NFU President Roger Johnson.
DFA’s Wilson pointed out: “ ... current domestic dairy programs do not provide farmers with the tools they need to weather extreme volatility in the global market. The bill pending before Congress represents significant compromise and fiscal discipline, and addresses critical needs of the dairy industry.
“Passage of the 2012 Farm Bill is vitally important to America’s dairy farmers,” Wilson stated. “The dairy provisions in H.R. 6083 would provide dairy farmers with enhanced risk management tools, keep the industry competitive in the global marketplace, and save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. More importantly, this program will be critical in helping dairy farmers avoid the massive erosion of equity experienced in 2009.
“During the past month, while Congress has been in recess, DFA members have placed hundreds of calls, signed the petition and sent individual letters to their elected leaders urging them to push for floor consideration of this measure as Congress returns to session in September.
“As these elected officials resume their duties in the nation’s capital, it is imperative that they heed the urging of their constituents and act swiftly to protect the interests of America’s farm families,” Wilson concluded.
The “Farm Bill Now!” rally took place at Union Square in front of the Capitol Reflecting Pond. Politicians addressed the crowd, as well as leaders from a broad range of farm, conservation, energy, consumer and nutrition organizations.
NFU President Johnson served as a master of ceremonies alongside Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, for the event. The organizations represent the nation’s two largest general farm groups.
All told, the event was endorsed by more than 80 organizations representing a broad range of associations and coalitions representing commodity crops, livestock, dairy, specialty crops, state and local governments, minor crops, energy and biobased product groups, farm cooperatives and financial groups.