At the late-night news of a nine-month farm bill extension and two-month fiscal cliff deal, many farm groups filed mixed reactions. Some offered support for action on the long-stalled Farm Bill, while others showed increased concern for action on a five-year deal before the next deadline expires.
The farm bill extension, which was voted on and passed in both the Senate and House Tuesday, includes few provisions that were re-worked in the proposed 2012 Farm Bill, and rather extends 2008 policy that expired in September. The bill was included in a package to avoid the expiration of a series of tax cuts that many dubbed the "fiscal cliff."
Perhaps USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack summed up the sentiment of many: "I am pleased that Congress passed needed middle class tax relief," he said in statement Wednesday. "However, while I am relieved that the agreement reached prevents a spike in the price of dairy and other commodities, I am disappointed Congress has been unable to pass a multi-year reauthorization of the Food, Farm and Jobs bill."
Groups say it's got its flaws, but…
After the vote, a common theme among farm groups, as with Secretary Vilsack, was the glaring lack of disaster relief, continuation of direct payments, old milk policy and no funding for many USDA programs.
American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said the Farm Bill extension was little more than a "stop-gap measure," expressing disappointment that Congress was unable to achieve passage of a five-year bill.
"Now, it will be up to the new 113th Congress to put a new farm bill in place," Stallman said in a statement Wednesday, "and we will continue to insist on the kind of reforms that were included in the proposals approved by the Senate and the House Agriculture Committee during the 112th Congress."