Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, said because of election year politics, it’s unlikely that a farm bill would be approved by Congress in 2012. Rather, an extension of the current farm bill for one year will be passed.
“We’re seeing very tough sledding up here in Washington to get anything done with the political year that it is,” Boustany said. “There’s a very high probability that we could see just a simple extension of the current farm programs into 2013.
“With that being said, I do think Rep. Frank Lucas on the House Ag Committee would really like to push to get this done,” he continued. “I think he’s realizing that if the politics don’t look right to get this done this time around, and we get into a major budget fight, he’s not going to put these farm programs at risk.”
Boustany said all those factors would likely force Congress to take up the new Farm Bill the year after its anticipated completion date. He admitted that while the delay of the farm bill was speculation on his part, the budgetary battles “were very real and would interfere with new legislation.”
To give farmers more of an insight into just what’s going on in Washington as it relates to the farm bill, Rep. Boustany will hold his annual Farm Day Forum in Youngsville, La. Feb. 23. Boustany said he’s invited Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., current vice-chair of the House Ag Committee, to the annual event to provide an overview of the current farm bill debate.
“We’re in a tough budgetary situation and that’s going to be big consideration as we go through and write the bill,” Boustany said. “That’s why I’m very much looking forward to Congressman Goodlatte coming down and talking about whatkinds of internal negotiations have occurred.”
According to Boustany, protecting the safety net of farmers and ranchers is his top priority for the next farm bill.
“Without the proper safety net programs and support programs for agriculture, we aredoing this country a huge disservice,” he said. “I think it’s critically important to make sure these programs are intact and work for our farmers so that they have a proper safety net.”
The sixth annual Farm Day Forum also will include speakers representing severalLouisiana commodities in a panel discussion. The event will be held from 9 a.m. to noon, with a lunch to follow. For more information, contactRep. Boustany’s Lafayette office at 337-235-6322.