Buis Urges Action

National Farmers Union president wants movement on a new farm bill.

Published on: Jan 28, 2008

On Friday, National Farmers Union President Tom Buis talked with the media about the frustration that he and many others around the nation are feeling because of the lack of a new farm bill enacted into law.

"It's been quite some time now since both the House and Senate have passed a farm bill," Buis says. "We're seeing no progress; in fact we're seeing some very rigid positioning by the White House. It has been really frustrating to sit here and watch this time pass without meaningful negotiations taking place."

Buis says he certainly understands the White House's right to weigh in on the Farm Bill, but to threaten a veto in advance of a Farm Bill that hasn't even been worked out between the House and Senate is in his opinion nothing less than "saber rattling." He says everyone needs to roll up their sleeves, everyone listen to everyone, and try to come to a successful conclusion.

"And sooner rather than later," Buis says. "The winter wheat crop has already been planted, for spring crops farmers and ranchers are trying to plan, trying to purchase inputs, which by the way are skyrocketing out of control, and they're trying to arrange financing and other items in preparation."

Not to mention all the other programs that are addressed by the Farm Bill, including the nutrition program that feeds 26 million people, conservation, rural development, and renewable energy.

"Some have suggested extending this farm bill for one year and see if we can come back next year and write a farm bill," Buis says. "I think that's the wrong move. I don't see a straight extension being able to garner enough votes without all the add-ons and improvements that are in the House and Senate farm bills. The nutrition, conservation, fruits and vegetables, and renewable energy programs are part of why we successfully got a farm bill passed to begin with. Without increases in those areas, a straight extension would not pass."

Buis says the NFU whole-heartedly hopes Congress can put together a bill that will be signed. However, if the Farm Bill is vetoed, Congress either has to override the veto or permanent law from 1949 goes into effect.

"I know permanent law is not perfect," Buis says. "But given the alternatives, if we get to that I think that's the best bet to move forward."