Provides farmers and ranchers with stability in wake of Senate impasse

Nov 15, 2007

WASHINGTON – Today, Ranking Member Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Rep. Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced a bill to extend current farm policy for one year to ensure stability for America’s farmers and ranchers as they begin planting their 2008 crops.  While the 2007 Farm Bill reauthorization remains stymied in the Senate, farmers and ranchers throughout the nation are already feeling the negative effects of the bill’s expiration and more severe consequences will soon be realized.  Without reauthorization, farm policy will revert to permanent statues established in 1938 and 1949 laws which are drastically different from current programs.  The permanent statues exclude many commodities, such as rice, soybeans and peanuts; set support prices much higher than current levels; and prevent new enrollment in various conservation programs. Currently, 22 Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors of this much needed legislation.

“Farmers and ranchers depend on agriculture policy and they depend on the Congress to ensure they have the tools they need to operate in a high risk environment. Without a doubt we need a new, forward-looking farm bill and I am committed to working to that end.  However, the Senate’s inability to move forward with their bill is starting to take a real, potentially devastating toll on American agriculture. Without stable farm policy our farmers and ranchers cannot make planning decisions, finalize land-lease contracts or negotiate lending agreements.  This inaction is putting our producers between a rock and a hard place and that is unacceptable.  This extension provides producers with a little certainty to make it through this crop year until we can get a long-term farm bill finished,” said Rep. Goodlatte.

Permanent agriculture law established by the Agriculture Adjustment Act of 1938 and the Agriculture Act of 1949 are superseded by subsequent legislation, such as the 2002 Farm Bill, and remain dormant until the subsequent legislation expires.  The underlying law does not reflect current farming and marketing practices, trade agreements, or market circumstances.  For example, permanent law does not authorize counter-cyclical payments or decoupled direct payments and imposes acreage allotments and marketing quotas for wheat and cotton.  Moreover, the milk marketing year begins January 1 and without any new legislation in place, the milk price support would escalate to between 75 and 90 percent of parity, or between $30.52 and $36.63, as of October 2007.  The current support price for milk is $9.90 per cwt.  Due to the parity prices far exceeding market prices, even a short term escalation in milk prices of this magnitude would have long-lasting, devastating effects on dairy producers and consumers.

“It is unacceptable that we are nearing the end of the year without a farm bill to take home to our farmers and ranchers.  Our producers face the uncertainty of making next year’s crop decisions without knowing what type of safety net will be available in the coming year. Securing future financing is exceptionally difficult without certainty of farm programs. Our farmers and ranchers are already burdened with many responsibilities. They should not have to worry about whether Congress can complete a farm bill. I would have expected the Senate Democratic leadership to understand the policy and political implications of their unwillingness to act,” said bill sponsor and Subcommittee on General Commodities and Risk Management Ranking Member Jerry Moran.

“I’m disappointed we haven’t passed a farm bill already because our producers need to make business decisions and need to know what the government programs will look like.  Producers have enough uncertainties to deal with, from droughts, to floods, to fluctuations in fuel costs or commodity prices, so extending the current farm bill is our best alternative right now,” said Subcommittee on Conservation, Credit, Energy and Research Ranking Member Frank Lucas.

At time release, original co-sponsors include:

Rep. Jerry Moran (R-KS) (Sponsor) 

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)

Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK)

Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC)

Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO)

Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX)

Rep. Michael Conaway (R-TX)

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX)

Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA)

Rep. Steve King (R-IA)

Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO)

Rep. Timothy Johnson (R-IL)

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC)

Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE)

Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI)

Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY)

Rep. Richard Baker (R-LA)

Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO)

Rep. Charles “Chip” Pickering (R-MS)

Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX)

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX)

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA)

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX)