WASHINGTON — Congressional leaders’ moving forward on negotiations to resolve differences between the Senate and House versions of the 2013 farm bill is a commendable step, but much more remains to be done, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. 

Overall, both the Senate and House bills provide an adequate food and farm safety net for consumers and farmers, built around options that are consistent with AFBF policy, AFBF President Bob Stallman wrote in a letter to conferees detailing Farm Bureau’s views on an array of issues related to the legislation. 

“Farm Bureau’s two overarching concerns related to the Senate-House conference on the farm bill are ensuring that permanent law is not repealed and a complete, unified bill continues,” Stallman said. 

“For some time, the threat of reinstatement of the long-outdated policies of the 1938 and 1949 acts has served as strong motivation for Congress to enact new farm bills,” he said. “Repealing those acts and making the 2013 farm bill commodity title permanent law could make it difficult in the future to generate sufficient political pressure to adjust the commodity safety net provisions should conditions in production agriculture change.” 

The letter noted that if the farm bill expires after five years, other important farm and rural programs covered in different titles are at risk of not being reauthorized. 

“Over the last two years, leadership of both ag committees have demonstrated their ability to forge bipartisan compromise to achieve a new five-year farm bill that meets farmers’ and ranchers’ needs while also contributing significant savings to reduce our federal deficit,” Stallman said. “We only see these savings if Congress gets the bill done.”

Farm Bureau continues to stand firmly behind the inclusion of the nutrition title in the farm bill. 

“A farm bill without a meaningful nutrition title will make it difficult, if not impossible, for the House and Senate to reach agreement on a final version that can be signed by the president,” said Stallman, who urged the conferees to move forward on a unified farm bill that continues the “marriage” between the nutrition and farm communities.