Whitfield: Time to Get Along-Sign Farm Bill
By Congressman Ed Whitfield
WASHINGTON DC - The United States Congress recently voted to end the 18th government shutdown since 1976 to prevent a catastrophic default on our financial obligations. Now that the government is functioning again, it is critical for a long-term farm bill to finally get signed into law so we can give our farmers the certainty they need to do the tough job of feeding our country.
Earlier this year, the House of Representatives and Senate voted on their respective versions of a long-term farm bill. The next step in the legislative process is for the differences between the two versions of the bill to be worked out in a bipartisan conference committee so that identical versions can be voted on in both chambers and sent to President Obama to be signed into law.
In an attempt to speed up this process, I joined with Kentucky Congressmen Brett Guthrie and Andy Barr last week to call on the Speaker of the House of Representatives to appoint House conferees so they could get to work with the already-appointed Senate conferees. I was pleased that the Speaker appointed House conferees shortly after our request.
The United States is home to over 2.2 million farms. About 97 percent of the U.S. farms are operated by families. It is hard for these families to have the stability and certainty needed to run their farms without a long-term farm bill with robust crop insurance provisions. That is why reaching an agreement between the House and Senate is so important. At the same time, a long-term farm bill will save taxpayers money by streamlining programs and eliminating those that are outdated.
When you drive across Kentucky, you will pass many different farms growing many different crops. While the crops may vary, one thing that’s the same is the risk farmers take to grow their crops. Just like a family would purchase insurance after investing in a new home or a new automobile, it is important for farmers to be able to have access to insurance for investing in new crops. Farmers can’t predict the future, and have no way to control the weather. The ability for farmers to have access to crop insurance gives them the peace of mind of knowing that they won’t lose their farm for circumstances out of their control. While insurance doesn’t make them whole, it will help their farm survive, and ensure we do not depend on foreign countries for our food.
Farmers are in the field harvesting their crop, and it is important that the United States Congress does their job by providing farmers the tools they need to produce our food and fiber at the lowest possible price through a new long-term farm bill. It will also show the country that the United States Congress can put aside our differences and work in a bipartisan fashion to literally feed our country.
We need to get a long-term farm bill on the President’s desk so that our farmers have less to worry about as they work to put food on our tables. To do that, the farm bill conferees must work as quickly as possible. That is why I will be continuing to put pressure on the conferees to get this done. The farmers out in the field deserve no less.