On Wednesday the House Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management held the first of two hearings this week to review implementation of the Farm Bill.
"For me, the Farm Bill is one of the most important pieces of legislation Congress works on because every man, woman, and child has a vested interested in agriculture," said Chairman Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa. "The programs in the 2008 Farm Bill ensure our farmers have a strong safety net they can rely on, thus guaranteeing the United States has the safest, most plentiful, and affordable food supply in the world. While there have been some bumps along the way to implement the programs, producers are eager to have the rules and regulations finalized so they can continue providing the world with an adequate and affordable food supply."
Representatives for the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Corn Growers Association, National Cotton Council, National Association of Wheat Growers and National Farmers Union all testified before the subcommittee Wednesday. Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman told lawmakers it's time to implement the bill and outlined several components of the bill that need quick action including disaster assistance, payment eligibility and the collaboration between the IRS and USDA. He said the farm bill touches the lives of every U.S. producer and their best interests are of paramount importance during the implementation process.
Stallman noted many farmers faced major disasters in 2008 yet there are still no rules for the disaster program or a target date for when producers will receive assistance. He told the General Farm Commodities and Risk Management subcommittee these rules need to be released so those farmers who had their operations devastated can receive help.
Regarding payment eligibility Stallman expressed that the rule put forward in late December needs to be fixed by 2010. While USDA is making progress he says delays have left a great deal of uncertainty in the countryside this planting season. And when it comes to collaboration between the IRS and USDA, Stallman said Farm Bureau will be watching closely and any proposal allowing IRS information to become public through the Freedom of Information Act is unacceptable to the group.