Hands Off the Farm Bill

March 23, 2009

WASHINGTON (March 23, 2009)—Prompted by President Obama’s proposed budget—which would gut the farm safety net and exclude many full-time farmers from federal assistance—lawmakers and farm groups sent a unified, bipartisan message today to anyone eying farm policy for future budget cuts.

17 Senators, 52 House members, and 40 farm organizations sent separate letters to Congressional Budget and Agriculture Committees demanding that there be no further funding reductions for farmers and ranchers.

Each letter noted that the ag community already made steep budget concessions in the 2008 farm bill and that this farm bill must not be reopened just months after passage.

Led by Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Reps. Marion Berry (D-AR) and Mike Conway (R-TX), the Congressional letters ( Senate letter , House letter (pdf)) express concern that additional cuts to farmers, coupled with rising production costs, will cripple family farms and jeopardize America’s food and fiber production

“By weakening a safety net already strained by the current economic stress being placed upon it, Washington would exacerbate the hard times and, in some instances the crisis, already affecting farm and ranch families that would ultimately require unbudgeted and costly ad hoc emergency assistance,” House members wrote.

The letter (pdf) sent by the majority of farming community added, “[P]roposed budget cuts totally overlook the fact that producers and lenders alike have made long-term business decisions based upon the commitments made by Congress in the five-year Farm Bill and, thus, will exacerbate the current credit crisis.”