TO: Iowa Reporters and Interested Parties
FR: John Davis, Chief of Staff, Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01)
SUBJ: The Fake Farm Bill: Why it dismantles the Farm Bill and why Iowa Farmers oppose it
DATE: Thursday, July 11, 2013
Whether you're an Iowa farmer or just live in Iowa, you know how crucial the Farm Bill is to rural America and the Iowa economy. For two years, Congress has struggled to pass a long-term extension of the Farm Bill into law.
The latest attempt happened earlier today, when the US House voted on a controversial and divisive piece of legislation, HR 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013.
Rep. Bruce Braley voted against the bill, saying the legislation amounted to a "fake Farm Bill... a wolf in sheep's clothing that would dismantle the Farm Bill itself."
Indeed, HR 2642 blows apart the Farm Bill, endangering the stability and certainty the legislation provides to rural America.
Given this reality, more than 530 agriculture groups from across the country have criticized the approach contained in HR 2642, including the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, the National Corn Growers Association, the Iowa Sheep Industry Association, the American Soybean Association, the American Association of Crop Insurers, the American Coalition for Ethanol, American Veterinary Association, John Deere Crop Insurance, and the National Association of FSA County Office Employees (NASCOE). Many of these groups, such as the American Farm Bureau Federation and the Renewable Fuels Association have also urged members of Congress to vote against the bill.
For your reference, please find below:
1. A short legislative primer on HR 2642 - what it does and why it blows apart the Farm Bill
2. Comments we received from Iowa agriculture groups on the dangers of this bill
The Fake Farm Bill Blows Apart the Farm Bill
HR 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, blows apart the very foundations of the Farm Bill:
1. Risks elimination of mandatory funding for the following crucial provisions of the Farm Bill:
o Conservation - farmers' incentives to set aside farmland for conservation purposes are threatened.
o Energy - funding for biofuel, wind, and other renewable energy programs are threatened. This endangers Iowa's entire ethanol industry, which supports 55,000 Iowa jobs and $5.4 billion of Iowa's GDP. Likewise, wind energy production in Iowa supports more than 6,000 jobs. Wind energy manufacturers have invested more than $300 million in Iowa, and more investments are on their way - like the $1.9 billion investment from MidAmerican Energy to build 1,050 megawatts of wind capacity by the end of 2015.
o Trade - supports for trade marketing assistance are threatened.
o Credit - the future of farm credit programs for young famers is threatened
o Rural Development - programs for businesses in rural America, community programs, rural infrastructure assistance, and broadband are threatened.
o Research and Extension - programs like Iowa State University's extension services are threatened.
o Horticulture - programs supporting specialty crops are threatened.
2. Removes the Nutrition title from the Farm Bill
o Disconnecting the SNAP program from the Farm Bill fails to recognize Iowa farmers' role in feeding Americans all over the country. The SNAP program accounts for $539 million in economic activity for Iowa agriculture.
o Additionally, Congress is ignoring their responsibility to renew this important program. As Rep. Braley put it yesterday, this is the "latest example of what's wrong with Congress."
In Their Words: Farm Groups are Concerned about HR 2642 and Oppose It
"It is vital for the House to try once again to bring together a broad coalition of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to provide certainty for farmers, rural America, the environment, and our economy in general and pass a five-year farm bill upon returning in July. We believe that splitting the nutrition title from the rest of the bill could result in neither farm nor nutrition programs passing, and urge you to move a unified farm bill forward." [Letter to Speaker John Boehner, signed by more than 530 agriculture groups, 7/2/13]
"We are also very much opposed to the repeal of permanent law contained in H.R. 2642. This provision received absolutely no discussion in any of the process leading up to the passage of the bill out of either the House or Senate Agriculture Committees. [...] We urge you to oppose the rule as well to vote against final passage of this attempt to split the farm bill and end permanent law provisions for agriculture." [Letter to Rep. Bruce Braley from Bob Stallman, President, American Farm Bureau Federation, 7/11/13]
Harkin Statement on House Elimination of Nutrition Funding in Farm Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) released the following statement today after the House of Representatives passed a proposed new farm bill that deletes the continuation of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and a number of other federal nutrition assistance programs from the legislation. With strong bipartisan support, the Senate approved last month a comprehensive farm bill, the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013, which includes a nutrition title, along with titles covering farm commodity, conservation, crop insurance, energy, rural development, and other policy areas.
"House Republicans have demolished the very coalition that has served our whole nation well for decades - a coalition of rural and urban, farmers and consumers. Their actions today abandon U.S. families who need our help to put food on the table while destroying the time-tested farm bill alliance that has drawn urban votes for agricultural and rural programs. This House action is a grave disservice to the entire nation - farmers, ranchers, rural communities, consumers and urban areas."