While pleased that the “fiscal cliff” package approved by Congress on New Year’s Day restored the $5 million exemption level for the estate tax, much work remains on addressing the spending side of the ledger, according to a American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) news release. “Without progress on the spending side, we are on a one-way road to fiscal disaster,” said Bob Stallman, AFBF president.
Unable to pass a new 2012 Farm Bill because of disagreement over the level of government spending on food stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and crop insurance, lawmakers gave the nod instead to extending certain measures of the 2008 Farm Bill.
Extension of the 2008 farm bill, however, is little more than a stop-gap measure, according to Stallman. “We are disappointed that Congress was unable or unwilling to roll a comprehensive five-year farm bill proposal into the fiscal cliff package and we will continue to insist on the kind of reforms that were included in the proposals approved by the Senate and the House Agriculture Committees during the 112th Congress.”
Stallman also expressed the farm group’s desire that Congress eventually provides U.S. farmers as well as all Americans “with the leadership needed to put our nation on a path toward fiscal responsibility and agricultural innovation and prosperity.”
The nation’s corn growers also expressed disappointment in Congress over its failure to pass a new 2012 Farm Bill. “Once again Congress’ failure to act pushes agriculture aside hampering farmers’ ability to make sound business decisions for the next five years, said Pam Johnson, president National Corn Growers Association (NCGA). “The NCGA is tired of the endless excuses and lack of accountability. The system is clearly broken.”
National Farmers Union (NFU) issued the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 8, the Tax Relief Extension Act, commonly referred to as the “fiscal cliff” bill, which included a farm bill extension:
“Once again, Congress has left rural America out in the cold. An extension represents a short-sighted, temporary fix that ultimately provides inadequate solutions that will leave our farmers and ranchers crippled by uncertainty,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “The legislation that passed fails to provide disaster aid for farmers or necessary support for our dairy industry, yet continues unjustifiable direct payments.”
“The bill also does not provide mandatory funding for the energy title, specialty crops and organic provisions, and new important programs for beginning farmers and ranchers,” Johnson said. “Farmers, ranchers, rural communities and all Americans deserve better and would have been better served with a new five-year farm bill.