Rep. Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh) says he is pleased that House and Senate conferees believe they will have a Farm Bill ready for a vote early next month.
Farm interests have been highly critical of Congress for not acting on a new Farm Bill before now. Without action, the provisions in the last Farm Bill would expire, meaning, among other things, a high degree of volatility in milk markets and uncertainty on a number of federal agricultural policies.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow has announced that the Farm Bill could be ready for a final vote in early January.
“The certainty of a five-year Farm Bill is critical for farmers and the economy. I am pleased the Farm Bill conferees are unified in their goal of advancing the bill for a vote in early January,” Owens said. “I am encouraged by the progress made on the Farm Bill this month and remain hopeful the CBO will move swiftly so the House and Senate can pass this important piece of legislation that affects every American farmer and consumer.”
Delaying action on the Farm Bill could cause the temporary reversion to an antiquated permanent law written in 1949. The old policy threatens to cause skyrocketing milk prices, but lawmakers negotiating the Farm Bill’s passage said that won’t happen.
On Tuesday, Rep. Collin Peterson, one of the negotiators and the ranking Democrat of the House Agriculture Committee, told the Minnesota news agency MinnPost that the secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has agreed to delay the reversion to old policy as long as Congress can take up the new Farm Bill in January.
Owens, a former member of the House Committee on Agriculture, has repeatedly called for both parties to compromise on the Farm Bill. He has supported what he calls reasonable cuts to the SNAP program while continuing to provide certainty for New York’s agriculture industry.
Owens represents New York’s 21st Congressional District, which spreads across the northern tier of the state from Lake Ontario to Lake Champlain.