As members of the Senate failed to approve cloture on the 2007 Farm Bill before they headed out of town for a 2-week Thanksgiving break, all numbers of farm groups stepped up to express their disappointment.
A cloture vote would have allowed the Senate to debate the food and farm legislation. But several Senators continue to tack on amendments that address all matters of issues — some related to a farm bill, some more questionable. At last count, there are more than 250 amendments to the Senate Ag committee's proposed bill.
What's more, extreme partisan discussions on what to do about funding the Iraq war dominated the Senate floor on the Friday before Thanksgiving week, and are looking to take center stage upon the Senators' return from the break. Some U.S. Representatives are now proposing an extension of the 2002 Farm Bill because they don't believe the Senate will act on current farm proposals within a workable timeframe to allow farmers enough time to plan for the 2008 crop season.
As an example of farm groups who have spoken out, National Farmers Union President Tom Buis participated in a press conference with Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
Buis said: "The current farm bill expired Sept. 30, and farmers need to know what programs are going over again.to be in place so they can make informed decisions for the upcoming planting season. It is vitally important that the Senate pass a farm bill, a House/Senate conference report is approved and the President signs the bill into law as soon as possible. The Senate delay is unfortunate and the clock is ticking. It is time to act now."
Of course the contents of the Senate bill are widely opposed within various agriculture groups and industries. The White House has already sent out a Veto warning. If the 2002 Farm Bill gets an extension, it will keep that version in place for a year, and Congress will have to tackle the issues all
All of this further suggests that the road to completing a Farm Bill this year will be long, rocky and may be impassible.