WineAmerica has signed on to the following letter promoted by the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance (of which we are a member) to promote passage of the Farm Bill. Congress is heading into a month long recess after today and will not reconvene until after Labor Day on September 3, leaving only 27 days to either pass a new version of the Farm Bill, or sign an extension of the current bill, which expires at midnight on September 30. WineAmerica strongly supports the passage of a new bill, rather than an extension due to the lack of specialty crop funding in the existing extension of the 2008 Farm Bill.
America’s agriculture, conservation, rural development, finance, forestry, energy and crop insurance companies and organizations strongly urge you to complete a Farm Bill as soon as possible. This important legislation supports our nation’s farmers, ranchers, forest owners, food security, natural resources and wildlife habitats, rural communities, and the 16 million Americans whose jobs directly depend on the agriculture industry.
For decades, the threat of reinstatement of the long-outdated policies of the 1938 and 1949 Acts have served as strong motivation for Congress to enact new farm bills. Repealing those Acts and making the 2013 farm bill commodity title permanent law could make it difficult to generate sufficient political pressure to adjust the commodity safety net provisions should conditions in production agriculture change. As recently as last December, the threat of reverting to permanent law was the critical element that forced the last Congress to pass an extension of the current farm bill when it proved impossible to complete action on the new five-year farm bill – an action that provided important safety net programs for 2013 and ensured Congress would have time this year to consider comprehensive reforms that will contribute billions to deficit reduction.
We also are concerned that if the 2013 farm bill’s Title I is made permanent, other important farm and rural programs covered in other titles would risk not being reauthorized if the bill expires after five years. If this should occur and we revert to “permanent” law, then programs covering conservation, forestry, research, energy, rural development, specialty crops, trade, etc., could be left to the will of the appropriations process, likely with limited funding and little opportunity to updated or adjusted to meet changing needs in agriculture and rural communities.
And we also fear that a Farm Bill without a meaningful nutrition title will make it difficult, if not impossible, for the House and Senate to reach agreement on a final version that can be signed by the President. We urge you to move forward on a unified farm bill that continues the “marriage” between the nutrition and farm communities and our constituents. Developing and adopting comprehensive farm legislation has been an effective, balanced arrangement for decades that has ensured all Americans and our nation benefit from the farm bill.
We stand ready to work with you to complete passage of the new five-year Farm Bill before the current law expires again on September 30, 2013.