Drought may force lawmakers to re-examine farm bill
Wide-ranging drought conditions are causing all sorts of problems for farmers and ranchers all over the Midwest. But it’s also creating sticky situations in Washington.
Before drought conditions started hammering farmers, farm bill legislation was the hot agricultural topic from coast to coast. You’ll remember that the Senate passed its version of the farm bill in June. The House, however, is lagging far behind and only recently drew up its version in committee. That has left it stalled in D.C.
Naturally, the drought has created more pressing concerns for farmers who had been watching Washington. But, because the farm bill may contain legislation tied to the agriculture safety net that drought-stricken farmers will depend on, the legislation may once again be thrust under the spotlight. And that may force some politicians into a corner, as the Kansas City Star’s Dave Helling points out.
But if drought relief gets tangled up in the bill, it will provoke some interesting questions for a few local lawmakers.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp, for example, voted against the House farm bill in July. He was upset, he said, about the food stamp spending in the bill. "I voted ‘no’ as this is no longer a Farm Bill,” his release said.
If drought relief included in the farm bill is delayed, it could hurt hundreds of Huelskamp's constituents, who are experiencing a severe lack of rainfall.
Other legislators who opposed movement on farm bill legislation looking for further cuts to food stamps may also be re-thinking their positions. Especially if they head home to angry, drought-worried farmers during the August recess.
Not much good comes of drought, any farmer will tell you that. But at least it might put pressure on Washington to get back to work on agricultural legislation – a welcome development to most Midwestern farmers.