By Pete Temple, Express Sports/Ag Editor
Rep. Bruce Braley warned of a series of hardships if a five-year Farm Bill renewal is not passed before the current Farm Bill expires on Sept. 30.
Braley made the comments, and took questions and comments from the public, during a series of Farm Bill Listening Sessions Wednesday, Aug. 21.
During the session held at Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) in Peosta, Braley listed the issues that are likely to come back if no new Farm Bill is passed, and the country reverts to the programs outlined in the 1949 Farm Bill.
First of all, he said the deficit reduction that is part of the latest proposed bill would not take place.
“There would be no funding for livestock disaster programs, no additional emergency funds for local food banks, and no funding for outreach to disadvantaged farmers,” Braley said.
He added that there would be outreach for veterans who want to farm, no funding for beginning farmers or rangers, no energy title funding, no funding for wetland or grassland resources, and the expiration of modern conservation protections.
He also predicted it “will likely lead to the doubling of milk prices.”
Braley said the Senate has twice passed a “strong bipartisan Farm Bill,” but the House has not, to this point, brought a version to the floor.
Twenty-five people attended the Peosta session, many of whom were farmers who offered their thoughts.
One farmer asked what the holdup was.
“Fewer and fewer people have ties to the farm,” Braley said. “We have to constantly try to educate people on the real story behind these stories.
“There are a number of people in the house that will never vote for any Farm Bill, for ideological reasons.”
Eric Manternach, a Dubuque County supervisor, said he hopes people realize farmers are not looking for a gift.
“Farmers would certainly like to get their money from the marketplace, and not from handouts,” he said. “The Farm Bill has been a safety net for that.”
Braley emphasized that timing is critical. Congress reconvenes in September, and it will have just nine legislative days to “try to pass a Farm Bill and get it signed into law,” Braley said.
“This bill is absolutely critical to Iowa’s economy, and if we don’t get it right, it will have negative consequences for Iowans, not just farmers, but for people who depend upon ag-related business to feed their families.
“At some point in time, kicking the can down the road is no longer a viable option. The time to get this done is now.”