Despite a desperate rush by the leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees to force new dairy and farm policy through Congress as part of the work of the Select Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the supercommittee, there will now be time to more carefully consider agriculture policy reforms. Monday, the supercommittee announced an impasse in their efforts to find bi-partisan agreement on federal budget savings and ending any ability to pass major legislation, including the farm bill proposals, under the expedited supercommittee process. Automatic budget cuts are set to trigger starting in 2013 since no agreement was reached.
Most farm bill programs are authorized through September 2012, so a regular process for consideration of farm programs will begin soon. That provides an opportunity to build support for less market-intrusive policies.
“As disappointing as it is that the committee was not able to work out a plan for significant debt reduction, dairy policy reform deserves better than to be legislated behind closed doors, with no hearings, debates or amendments,” said Jerry Slominski, IDFA’s senior vice president for legislative and economic affairs. “We have a lot of work to do to get ready for the 2012 Farm Bill, but are thankful that there will be a recognized process to follow and a reasonable timeline in which to act.”
IDFA and its members stepped up outreach to both the agriculture committees and the supercommittee over the last two weeks. Member companies in key supercommittee states including Arizona, Texas and Ohio were penning letters and opinion pieces, and making calls to Congressional offices.
IDFA CEO Connie Tipton issued a statement on Thursday, saying that “the way the super committee process is being used to enact the next farm bill is wrong.” She also said that “the International Dairy Foods Association strongly supports efforts by Congress to get our nation’s fiscal house in order. Yet, it has become increasing clear that including the Dairy Security Act in the deficit reduction bill has nothing to do with controlling spending and everything to do with taking advantage of a truncated and undemocratic legislative process to pass a controversial policy that would benefit a special interest at the expense of taxpayers and consumers.”
“Despite the lack of resolution by the supercommittee, none of the efforts can be considered wasted,” said Slominski. “All contribute to the upcoming efforts to enact policy reform that IDFA supports, including the phasing out of the federal milk pricing system. IDFA will continue to support risk management tools for dairy farmers while opposing government-mandated supply management for the industry.”
For more information, contact Slominski at firstname.lastname@example.org.