NFU President Calls for Farm Bill Action
WASHINGTON (Jan. 25, 2007) – In a conference call with reporters today, National Farmers Union (NFU) President Tom Buis strongly urged members of Congress and the administration to reach a compromise so a new farm bill can be signed into law. Buis said that if there are not enough votes to override the president’s threatened veto that moving to permanent law would be the best option. Below is his statement.
“It’s been quite some time now since both the House and Senate passed a farm bill and we’re seeing no progress. In fact, were seeing some very rigid positioning by the White House that if we don’t do a farm bill without new revenue then they will veto the bill. It has been really frustrating to sit here and watch this time pass without meaningful negotiations taking place.
“On behalf of Farmers Union we want to state, unequivocally, we are fully supportive of getting a new farm bill written and written soon. I would hope that the House and Senate would pass something, send it to the president and if he vetoes it, let him suffer the political consequences. If Congress can’t override a veto by March 15, when the programs expire, we then start operating under a different budget baseline. This will only compound the problem of ever working out the budget provisions for the farm bill because we will have less money in the baseline to work with.
“I certainly understand the White House’s right to weigh in on a farm bill but that needs to be done in a constructive manner. To threaten a veto of a farm bill that hasn’t even been worked out between the House and the Senate is nothing less than saber rattling in my opinion.
“Some have suggested extending this farm bill for one year and see if we can come back next year and write a farm bill. I think that’s the wrong move. I don’t see a straight extension being able to garner enough votes without all the add-ons and improvements that are in the House and Senate farm bills. The nutrition, conservation, fruits and vegetables, and renewable energy programs are part of why we successfully got a farm bill passed to begin with. Without increases in those areas, a straight extension would not pass.
“Then, the alternative becomes one that in my opinion is more attractive, which is allowing permanent law to set in. I know permanent law is not perfect, but given the alternatives, if we get to that I think that’s the best bet to move forward.”