The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 12, 2013

Grange officials disappointed farm bill not done


Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Officials with the National Grange have expressed disappointment with Congress’ failure to debate and ratify a new farm bill, opting instead to extend provisions of the 2008 farm bill for another year.

The extension of the 2008 farm bill, included as part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act passed by Congress, lacks input from agricultural leaders in Congress, fails to address the hardships experienced by rural constituents, and provides no alternative for several expired programs, officials with the Grange said.

“While the Grange understands the importance of avoiding a tax increase for 99 percent of Americans, those same Americans need the farm bill most to ensure a safe and reliable food supply,” National Grange President Ed Luttrell said. “The farm bill protects our growers and producers, expands opportunity in rural America, and provides one in 12 jobs in this country.”

Among other things, the extension does not include provisions for the Dairy Security Act, funding for the energy title, specialty crop and organic provisions, or beginning farmer and rancher programs. It also continues the direct payment method, despite its removal in both the House and Senate versions of the 2012 farm bill.

The extension gives Congress until Sept. 30 to pass a new farm bill, allowing them another nine months to address the issues. Luttrell said the most frustrating part of the extension is the time Congress has had to put in place a new farm bill.

“Congress has had nearly six months to address this issue, with the Senate passing their version of the farm bill in June and the House passing theirs in July,” Luttrell said. “Congressional leaders are not giving rural constituents the attention and assistance they require to continue feeding our nation and the world.”

Luttrell said despite frustrations, the Grange will continue to work with other agricultural groups to ensure passage of a new farm bill in the coming months.

Established in 1867, the Grange, a nonpartisan, nonprofit fraternal organization, is the oldest agricultural and rural community service organization.