Earlier this month, President Obama called on Congress to pass the stalled five-year farm bill, calling it the single best way to help rural communities recover from this summer's historic drought.
"Now is the time for us to come together and go ahead and get this done. And my hope is that Congress, many of whom will be traveling back to their districts, in some cases in rural communities, and see what’s taking place there, will feel a greater sense of urgency and be prepared to get this done immediately upon their return," he said. The Senate and the House of Representatives will both return to session on September 10; the current farm bill is set to expire September 30.
Despite months of urging, House leaders were unwilling to bring up a five-year bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee, with the proposed $16 billion in cuts to food stamps seemingly the biggest sticking point. Democrats oppose the cuts, while Republicans say the bill needs more cuts throughout. The House did pass an emergency drought relief bill, which would have extended livestock and tree-grower disaster aid programs that expired in 2011, but the Senate declined to take up the measure. For their part, the Senate passed their own farm bill in June, with $23 billion in proposed cuts, including $4 billion from food stamps.© 2013 Varnum LLP