WASHINGTON (Dec. 11, 2007)—Former House Agriculture Committee Chairman Larry Combest urged Senators to finish their work on the farm bill before adjourning for the year and not let amendments bog down the process in a speech delivered today to the Farm Journal Forum.
“For all of the Senators who say that they care about the farmers and ranchers of this country, our request is simple: actions speak louder than words. If you care about farmers and want a farm bill, saying less means more right now. Work out your amendments with the Committee or please drop them,” Combest said.
Combest, who also served as Chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence prior to Chairing the House Agriculture Committee told the group that the farm bill was critical to the nation’s energy and food security. But, according to Combest, the bill takes on added urgency given what farmers and ranchers across the country are up against.
“I have traveled around the country and I can tell you that farmers and ranchers are extremely anxious and very upset about the delay,” said Combest. “Farmers and ranchers around the country—not to mention their lenders—are being forced to make serious financial decisions for next year and they are going to be heading into the fields—many as early as February. Yet, they do not have the faintest idea what the law of the land will be, or even if they will have a safety net.”
Combest emphasized that every amendment offered is one amendment further away from passing a strong new farm bill and that too many amendments, especially poison pills, could still blow up the process.
“There is some friendly fire going on in the Senate,” Combest said. “There are Senators from farm states who are talking about offering amendments that could tie the Senate up in knots,” Combest added. “There are a couple of payment limitation amendments. There are also some crop insurance amendments. The Brown amendment, disguised as reform, would actually kill the crop insurance program.”
To read Combest’s speech in its entirety, use this link.