Farm Bill And Fireworks On 4th of July

Iowa Farm Scene

Aggravated by gridlock in Washington, Iowa farm leaders urge Congress to pass a new farm bill.

Published on: July 4, 2013

On July 3 Iowa Corn Growers Association representatives gathered in front of the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines for the Iowa Governor's annual sweet corn feed. It's a Fourth of July celebration and an event to mark the beginning of Iowa's sweet corn harvest—which is running a little late this year due to a cooler and wetter than normal spring and delayed planting. The sweet corn served July 3 was rumored to be imported from Missouri.

Anyone who shows up at this event gets to eat as ears are handed out to the public. In the crowd on July 3 were Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, a former Iowa governor. The Iowa Corn Grower leaders expressed concerns about the lack of progress in Washington D.C. on a new farm bill. Branstad, Northey and Vilsack weighed in on the need for the U.S. House to act as soon as possible and pass a new farm bill. Then the House version and Senate version of the bills would go to a Senate-House conference committee where differences would be worked out. The resulting bill would be sent to President Obama to sign it into law.

The Senate has already passed a new farm bill, the House hasn't. The Senate's version is a $500 billion, five year farm bill. The House version was defeated 234-195 on June 20, largely because of proposed changes to the food stamp program used by 48 million Americans. Some Republicans said the estimated $2 billion in proposed annual cuts to the food stamp program in the House version of the bill were not enough, while Democrats said the cuts were too steep. The Senate, passing its bill earlier in June, reduced the food stamp program by $400 million each year in its five-year farm bill.

House farm bill still in limbo as lawmakers weigh several options

Republican leaders in the House are gauging support for possibly splitting the farm bill in two—the agriculture components in one bill and the nutrition section in another bill. The nutrition section includes the food stamp program. If the House chooses not to split the bill, the lawmakers could make changes to the House bill that failed or they could take up the Senate's bill and vote on it.