Government back in motion, nobody knows when Farm Bill will get rolling |

Government back in motion, nobody knows when Farm Bill will get rolling

Carrie Stadheim
Managing Editor and Staff Journalist
Tri-State Livestock News

News reports state that President Obama and his congressional allies, on Oct. 16, 2013, succeeded overnight in achieving a virtually condition-free increase in the debt ceiling. Add funding to end the partial government shutdown and by some accounts you are left with a deal that left America’s debt crisis unaddressed. Plus it “kicked the can down the road,” developing no solutions but rather putting off imminent battles for three more months.

President Obama signed the bill early Thursday morning. Reports claim that federal employees will return to work although many seem to be uninformed regarding specific details.

Fox News said the bill cleared the House late Wednesday on a 285-144 vote, with support in large part in the form of Democrats. All House Democrats voted in favor of the bill and 87 Republicans did as well; 144 Republicans voted against it. The Senate, where the plan originated, earlier voted 81-18 for the bill.

While the result comes as a relief to furloughed federal workers, it leaves unfinished any long-term agreement over the nation’s fiscal future. And despite Republicans’ goals of derailing ObamaCare with this legislation, they caved and left the health care law alone. GOP leaders vowed to fight that another day.

“I am glad the Senate leadership came together in a bipartisan fashion to find a way out of the mess we are in now, open up the government, and pay the nation’s bills. This compromise will help keep our economic recovery on track by sending a strong signal to consumers and businesses,” said Senator Johnson (D-S.D.) in an official statement.

South Dakota Republican Senator John Thune commented, “…we’re now 16 days into a shutdown and risking a possible default, and Congress needs to end this impasse. This isn’t a perfect proposal, it’s far from it, but it will ensure that we don’t blow past the default date that’s been set by the Treasury, and it will force Congress to have a broad debate about Washington’s dangerous levels of spending and debt, which are hamstringing the economy and mortgaging our children’s futures. This debate should be an opportunity to focus on fiscal policies that will actually grow the economy and strengthen the middle class.”

Bloomberg Government, in a Thursday story, said that the president called on Congress to “clear a farm bill by the end of the year,” but Congress is already headed in that direction.

Conferees have been appointed on both sides, including South Dakota’s Kristi Noem in the House and according to the Bloomberg story, meetings could begin the week of Oct. 21.

The republican congresswoman commented, “Now that the government is reopened, the greatest help we can provide now is a Farm Bill. As a member of the conference committee, I’m working hard to get a bill done that includes a livestock disaster program to help our livestock producers. Between last year’s drought and now the blizzard, these guys have had a tough couple of years.”

Noem is the first House member from South Dakota to be appointed a Farm Bill conferee since 1996.

In an earlier interview, Senator Thune said that the farm bill, if enacted, would provide somewhere between 65 percent and 75 percent payment on livestock confirmed dead from the blizzard. A $100,000 cap exists on the program, according to Farm Credit Services Vice President Doug Theel, Rapid City, S.D.

According to a recent Reuters story, analysts believe it will be difficult to reconcile the dramatically different proposals for food stamps.

The Reuters story also said that that many farm groups were pushing for an expanded and stronger crop insurance program. The House and Senate bills accomplish this through a “supplemental coverage option” that is an insurance policy covering up to 90 percent of normal revenue from grains and oilseeds.