March 23, 2018

Wiesemeyer: Democrats Don’t Want A Farm Bill

 |  By: Anna-Lisa Laca

The Farm Bill process stalled out on Friday when Congress departed for a two-week recess. House Ag Committee ranking member, Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) says an extension is likely, while Pro Farmer’s Washington Policy Analyst, Jim Wiesemeyer, says politics are in the way and Democrats simply don’t want a Farm Bill.

“House Ag Committee Democrats bitterly complained that they had not seen farm bill language weeks ahead of a hoped for committee markup, yet more than half of the Ag Committee democrats voted yesterday for the $1.3 trillion, 2232 page, bill that was released at 8 p.m. eastern time the night before now,” he told AgriTalk host Chip Flory on Friday. “Anybody got a BS detector because I'm trying to find one. You've got politics in the Farm Bill right now. I don't care what anybody says, the democrats do not want a Farm Bill.”

“[The Farm Bill] is on life support,” Peterson says. “If you were a betting person you would want to bet on an extension.”

House Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) says there is still time to enact a new farm bill this year.

“I’m deeply disappointed and hurt, quite frankly, that Collin led his team to the sidelines,” Conaway says, adding that he will welcome Democrats back “with open arms” if they want to re-engage.

According to Wiesemeyer, Peterson denies House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is behind the refusal by Ag Committee Democrats to negotiate with Conaway.

“She doesn’t even know what we’re doing,” Peterson says. “The idea that we’re taking orders from her is ridiculous.”

The rush for a farm bill was significantly slowed earlier this year when the budget agreement included making seed cotton eligible for farm safety-net programs and by modifying the dairy Margin Protection Program (MPP), Wiesemeyer says adding “an extension to the current farm bill will not be so easy, either, as over three dozen expiring farm programs need to be funded.”