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Peterson says farm bill won't pass this month

By Janet Kubat Willette

Date Modified: 10/03/2012 10:12 AM

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Collin Peterson says there's no chance the farm bill will pass before Sept. 30.

Peterson, ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, made the statement Sept. 14.

What does it mean? Not much, he said, because there is really nothing of consequence that happens until Jan. 1, when the MILC program expires. Peterson said he extended that program until Dec. 31, 2012, though the National Milk Producers Federation website says the program expires on Sept. 30.

For the commodity title, nothing from the 1949 permanent law kicks in until spring 2013 when the winter wheat crop is harvested in Texas.

The 1949 law would require the government to support milk price at $38.40 per hundredweight, Peterson said. Dairy farmers might like the idea, but the government can't afford it and that alone should provide motivation for action.

Chairman Frank Lucas of the House Agriculture Committee is trying to sell people on a 90-day extension of the farm bill, which Peterson said is completely unnecessary. He said he spoke with Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the Senate agriculture committee, who told them the Senate wouldn't be supporting an extension following a hearing with USDA on the issue.

The lack of action comes after hundreds of farmers rallied in Washington on Sept. 12 as part of the Farm Bill Now coalition. The coalition of close to 90 farm groups is calling on the House to pass the farm bill.

Pam Johnson, a Floyd, Iowa, farmer and first vice president of the National Corn Growers Association, said it was a great rally.

Members of the coalition are calling on farmers and consumers alike to flood the House phone banks and tell them to pass a farm bill. One in 12 jobs is tied to agriculture, Johnson said.

It's so important for farmers step up and make a call or send an email, Johnson said.

Doug Peterson, president of Minnesota Farmers Union, said they are also urging their members to call Congress and urge passage of the bill.

Peterson attended the rally and said he was disappointed the Republican leadership chose to have a press conference at the same time as the rally. It sends the wrong signal to farmers, he said.

Rally speakers included Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, Rep. Kristi Noem, R-South Dakota, Stabenow and Peterson.

Stabenow, speaking the day before in a conference call with reporters, made her thoughts on the bill clear:

"Just as every farmer and rancher has to get up in the morning and do the job in front of them and not delay it; this is our job, we've done our part in the Senate and the House needs to step up and take the two or three days it would take to get this done."