Fiscal cliff, not farm bill, priority during lame duck session

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Fiscal Cliff The fight for congressional attention is quickly turning into a fight between the looming fiscal cliff and the farm bill as Congress heads into its post-election, year-ending session. However, with no major changes made to the presidency, Senate or the House, there’s little chance that this lame duck session will be anything but lame.

That’s what Mary Kay Thatcher, senior director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), told AgriTalk’s Mike Adams in an interview on Wednesday.

"There's a lot of high-priority items (other than the farm bill) that have to be done," she said. "It's going to be a very uphill push to get this farm bill done in the lame duck session."

The fiscal cliff notwithstanding, urgent issues remain for farmers. 

“You look at something like the Milk Income Loss Contract program that has ended as of Sept. 30. We have to do something for dairy farmers,” Thatcher said.

“We can’t leave our livestock producers, given the high prices they are paying for feed and the problems they had with the drought. Those kinds of things are going to have to be done,” she added.

To address the biggest issue facing Americans – the fiscal cliff - Thatcher doesn’t sense that either side is willing to budge. If Congress does not take action on avoiding this fiscal cliff, taxes on essentially everything will go up on Jan. 1 and automatic spending cuts will kick in. Many economists think this could cause the economy to slip into a recession next year.

“I think you can easily see these taxes not getting done before Christmas,” Thatcher said.  

To listen to more of Thatcher’s interview with AgriTalk, click on the audio bar at the top of this article.

Matt Erickson, an economist with AFBF, noted earlier during an interview with Newsline that rural Americans would be most affected by this fiscal cliff if Congress can’t work out a solution to the predicament. Read, “Rural America the biggest loser as fiscal cliff looms.”

In late-October, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., caused a stir after indicating that a stand-alone farm bill would come to the House floor following the election. The Hill reports that farm lobbyists have pointed that the last – and best – hope for passing the 2012 farm bill would be for it to ride on fiscal cliff legislation. Click here to read more.

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kansas  |  November, 08, 2012 at 09:27 AM

Hey folks and fellow agriculturalists, how does it feel to be completely at the mercy of the POTUS & US Congress? Isn't it great to be almost completely Dependent on Government Programs for Survival - subject to the approval of a set of greasy politicians, elected by the 98.5% urban voters who cannot distinguish corn from milo or a pig from a sheep? If not for the hefty influence of our multi-national, multi-billion dollar "partners?", in processing and distribution (ADM, Cargill, Smithfield, ConAgra, Bunge, the CME, etc.), we wouldn't have any say in any of these programs at all. Feeling better? Or thinking maybe a life-time and generations of being "wards of the State" in the "farming ghetto" is not such a good idea? For agriculture at the production level and especially for family farms, this is The Issue that is most important.

Batavia, NY  |  November, 08, 2012 at 11:48 AM

So how does a Soviet style farm bill help us?? It is pathetic that all of these farm organizations are crying that farmers will not survive without government programs. How long will the taxpayers subsidize crop insurance so that insurance companies can make a mint? And all this dairy supply management does is make dairy farmers more dependent on lobbying and paying people like the million dollar man Kozak.

Texas  |  November, 08, 2012 at 04:26 PM I went looking for an article that wasn't exactly flattering to U.S. farming practices. The numbers and percentages quoted in the article were similar across several publications and sites I visited. It is pretty easy to see that food is cheap in the U.S. for several reasons. Much is due to science and farming practice but stability is a necessity. Because inputs are so high in agriculture, a safety net to survive and farm again in years like 2012 with a drought of epic proportions, ensures low costs for the future. According to the article, families of the 1950's spent over 20% of their income on food. Fast forward to today and go to Put in your income tax paid for 2011. My tax dollars going to agriculture net of food stamps, which is actually welfare hidden in another program, was 1.6% or $268. Not a bad trade off for lowering my food costs by over 15%. I tire of agriculture being the whipping child for the ills of America.

kansas  |  November, 09, 2012 at 09:08 AM

Ken - In your breathless race to your hyperbolic screech, did you even bother read what I wrote? That was exactly my point. That Agriculture, like so many other industries - GM, Chrysler, GE, Ethanol producers,Defense contractors, Green Tech (solyndra?), Big Banks, etc., etc., etc. have become Wards of the State who depend on Government Programs for Survival. Romney's comment about the 47% applies to farmers too, as they support and vote for those who promise them the most Free Stuff, least taxes or in this case, just survival. The Welfare State and the Cycle of Dependency is more perfectly represented by Crony Capitalism in this country than by the tens of millions receiving food stamps and WIC assistance... which, in case you're unaware, are part of the Department of Agriculture.

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