Earlier this year, Congress was able to break the habit of passing farm bill extensions by passing a comprehensive 5-year farm bill. Many in Washington, D.C. admit that this bill was not a perfect one, but one that was agreeable when agriculture needed it the most.
Some may think that getting a compromise put together that both sides of the aisle could buy into was the hard part of this process, but according to the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF), now is the time to roll up the sleeves and get to work on implementing the new farm law.
“There are over 900 pages of law that now has to be delivered to USDA and they will begin to write the rules,” said Adam Sharp, OFBF’s Vice President of Public Policy. “That process will likely take the better part of this year. Hopefully by this fall you will start to see rule packages and program sign up opportunities.”
AUDIO: Ty Higgins visits with Ohio Farm Bureau’s Adam Sharp about implementing the farm bill and the importance of the county presidents’ trip to D.C.
For some, that time frame may seem very optimistic given the complexity of this law and the new programs and choices farmers will have to decide upon moving forward.
The passage of the farm bill leaves the possibility for Congress to focus on other issues that are important to America’s ag sector. Among that list of important farm-related legislation is immigration reform.
“That continues to be an uphill battle,” said Mary Kay Thatcher, Senior Director of Congressional Relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF). “We hoped we could get something done by the end of last year or the beginning of this one, but I wouldn’t bet my right arm it will get done in 2014.”
That is because this year is an election year, and historically all efforts, for both parties during years like this one, are on gaining as many places as possible at the Congressional table. Despite the likely lack of action from Washington, AFBF will continue working the halls of the House and Senate on immigration reform, as well as tax reform, the Clean Water Act and one issue that may get some attention in the coming weeks.
AUDIO: Mary Kay Thatcher talks with Ty about more issues that AFBF is working on in 2014
“I think we can finish the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which certainly has a big impact on improving our locks, dams and transportation system and that would be huge,” Thatcher said. “Now just because we pass a WRDA bill doesn’t mean we are done with the issue because every year you have to fight for appropriations to really make it happen.”
Ohio Farm Bureau Federation county presidents are getting the opportunity to meet with their members of Congress this week on the organization’s annual journey to D.C. to talk about these and other issues. On Tuesday, they were hosted by former county president and now U.S. Representative Bob Gibbs from Ohio’s 7th District. Gibbs hosted an Ag Forum to give constituents an update on issues that pertain to agriculture and included guest speakers Representatives Pat Tiberi (OH-12), Paul Ryan (WI-1) , and Ag Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (MN-7).