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Hochul knocks House leadership for failure to act on renewal of farm bill

Rep. Kathy Hochul is boarding a plane in Washington, D.C., right now, heading back to her district for an election-period recess, but she would rather stay in the Capitol, she said, and give local farmers what they need to run their businesses -- the certainty of a farm bill.

"I'm ready to turn around right now and stay in Congress as long as it takes day and night and do what's right for our farmers," Hochul said.

"This is just another sign that Washington is broken and we've let our farmers down," Hochul said.

Every five years, Congress must pass a new farm bill. Last passed in 2008 as the Food, Conservation and Energy Act, the $288 billion appropriations bill not only provides crop insurance and price support for farmers, it also provides subsidies for private land conversion back to a natural state, biofuel subsidies and is the funding source for food stamps.

A version of the bill was passed with bipartisan support by the Senate, but even after winning Agriculture Committee support in the House, the bill hasn't come to a floor vote.

The 2008 act expires in a week.

Hochcul said it's baffling and unconscionable that the House leadership has blocked a floor vote.

Agriculture, Hochul said, is a $739 million a year industry in her district, and $4.7 billion statewide. 

Regardless of the legislation's provisions -- the Senate and House versions would need to be negotiated into a compromise bill in conference committee -- farmers need the certainty of a farm bill in order to operate their businesses on a daily basis.

According to an NPR article, the near-term fallout of the failure of the House to pass a farm bill is pretty minimal. The provisions of the current farm bill that most effect farmers remain in place through the end of the current growing season, which for something like winter wheat means until spring.

However, it is very uncertain what will come next, according to NPR, because some deficit hawks have their eyes set on greatly reducing expenditures in the farm bill, including for food stamps, and there may be a lot of political pressure in Washington next year to reduce spending.

"We need to keep spending under control, yes, and we need to find ways to do it," Hochul said, "but the farmers need the certainty that comes with passage of this bill."

There is bipartisan support for passage of a farm bill in the House, Hochul said, and she won't speculate on why its leadership is blocking a floor vote on such a critical piece of legislation.

"The fact they won't let us get to a compromise means that they refuse to govern and that's just inexcusable," Hochul said.

Jerry Buckman
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"We need to keep spending under control, yes, and we need to find ways to do it," That's exactly what she needs to be doing in DC! Not complaining about the lack of compromise in spending more.

Mark Potwora
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This is not a farm bill its a food stamp bill...80% of it goes for food stamps...So it should be called the food stamp bill.....

Jeff Allen
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Peel off the non farm related items, resubmit just the crop insurance and farm subsidies as a stand alone emergency spending bill and subject it to an up or down vote. The farm help is being held hostage by the ballooning entitlement demand which would not pass an up/down vote on its own. This is not a House leadership problem, this is a partisan political problem that happens every time these massive bills are bundled in an attempt to force through spending that is a tough sell for legislators when they get back home.

Mark Potwora
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I agree Jeff,If Hochul was so concerned about the farmers she would do what you said and work on just the crop insurance and farm subsidies part... Submit a bill that does just that.....Its a food stamp bill ,and she should call it that...

Kyle Couchman
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Gee I'd like to know where these numbers are coming from, I hvent read the bill itself but from one of my reference sites the only foodstamp related item was this...

Nutrition Assistance Programs – Several segments of the bill are aimed at “cracking down on fraud and abuse while strengthening efforts to get food assistance to those most in need.” Under the bill, the Department of Agriculture will receive additional funds to prevent trafficking of food assistance benefits. Lottery winners will no longer be eligible to receive food assistance, while college students food assistance eligibility will be limited to those participating in technical and vocational education programs (such as ESL and basic adult literacy programs) at primarily two-year colleges. The bill also bans retail food outlets from participating in Nutrition Assistance Programs if their sales of items like liquor and tobacco are higher than 45% of the store’s total sales. http://www.croplife.com/article/27808/2012-farm-bill-15-key-points-you-n...

This doesnt seem like a wasteful exspenditure, at least from a sensible perspective but political dynomite for some it might be.

Looks bad on the Senate as this was the objection and reason that they supposedly didnt vote on the farm bill...

Which is a nice sound bite… except for the fact that the House of Representatives passed the farm bill. The Senate, which is controlled by do-nothing Harry Reid and the Democrats, decided to blow out of Washington without voting on it. http://www.humanevents.com/2012/08/14/obama-falsely-attacks-paul-ryan-ov...

Among other things, they objected to a $16 billion cut in the massively bloated $770 billion food stamp program – whose funding makes up fully 80 percent of the “farm bill.” The size of the food stamp program has doubled since 2008, with approximately one in seven Americans now receiving food assistance. The House bill accomplished this largely by means-testing food stamps to ensure certain asset and income limits were met – a measure whose necessity will come as a surprise to the vast number of American voters who think food stamps already work that way.

From what I have read also the senate is where they are refusing to vote on this bill, it's already passed the house so this article confuses me. Jeff is complaining about the food stamp program (which is administered by the Dept of Agriculture by the way) Yet the way the bill is written it wants to reduce the food stamp program and trim areas of fraud

Lorie Longhany
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Kyle, I believe you have this mixed up. The Senate voted and passed the bipartisan farm bill under the leadership of Democrat Debbie Stabenow and Kansas Republican Pat Roberts.

It was the House leadership that failed to bring the bill up.

http://www.farmbillfacts.org/

Jeff Allen
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Lorie, I'm glad you put up that link, it perfectly illustrates the hidden agenda of the bill and why people are so fed up with the process. The website is all pictures of farms and farmers, roiling hills, barns, and beautiful countrysides. It talks about the agendas of protecting farms, water, land, air, and farmers futures. Page after page focuses on Americas heartland and how this bill is focused on the preservation of this great American commodity. Then you finally click on the facts part and the first slide confirms what everyone has been saying all along, the very smallest portion of the bill is dedicated to farming. The graph that confirms that this is a food stamp bill is nicely presented on a slice of tomato though. This whole exercise confirms the disingenuous nature of the process. I think most reasonable people simply ask that the food stamp bill be presented alone and be subject to a vote on its own merit instead of packaged as anything but.

http://www.farmbillfacts.org/farm-bill-facts

Lorie Longhany
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Kyle, and you have a legitimate beef (no pun intended) but when the House refuses to allow the bill to get to the floor there is no chance for amendments and debate about your very concerns. That's not governing.

While no one likes that there's been increases in food stamp recipients, it is a by- product of an economy that was hit by the worse downturn since the great depression. If people are out of work it is logical that there may be more of a need for help through the food stamp program. Food is grown and produced by farmers which also includes the food obtained through food stamps.

Mark Potwora
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Why is it so hard for Democrats to call this bill what it is...This is a huge increase in the food stamp program..Spending is out of control and this is just another program that needs to be trimmed down..To play this all to the public, as the Republicans are hurting the farmers,when in reality it is just about them trying to control the cost of the food stamp program that the democrats want to increase, making more and more people dependent on the government for their day to day existence ...Hochul knows this is all about food stamps...

Jeff Allen
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I'd like to give Kathy Hochul the benefit of the doubt on this one. She has thus far represented our area well and has shown flashes of independence and bi-partisanship. Her statement may very well have been dictated to her by her House leadership. She is a freshman representative and the DNC is being very tight with their campaign contributions this cycle. I'm fairly confident that if she could have pulled off getting the farm supports through, she would have but doing it at the expense of the Democrats favorite entitlement program probably would have cost her dearly with the party purse holders.

Mark Brudz
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It's just a talking point,

Friday Dems from house got together for photo op on capitol steps saying they wanted to stay and work. Then all promptly departed for the airport

President, gets on radio and says there is unfinished business and should have stayed in DC,

It is all coordinated, just electioneering and November 7th congress will come back to DC and votes will be cast without fear of having to explain them

The statement was calculated and coordinated just like it is being repepeated across the country

Mark Brudz
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Removed Duplicate Post

Lorie Longhany
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I'm curious about how the farmer's themselves feel since it is their industry and happens to be the industry that drives our local economy.

I am seeing in my own backyard how the weather has effected one agri business in my neighborhood. No McPhearson's this fall because of the apple crop. That means that my nephew, who works there part time, won't have his gig and I will go without Marney Frost's delicious fry cakes and apple pies. I just think that in a year where farmer's have been devestated by forces out of their control, that a farm bill should at least be brought to the floor for debate.

Jeff Allen
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Here is another aspect that again exposes the false narrative of this story but also debunks another. Given the "supposed" outrage of the country over Mitt Romneys comments about the 47% who receive government benefits (they are not, this is a media driven narrative), the Democrats missed a HUGE opportunity for a slam dunk. If America is indeed grossly offended over the insult to those who are on assistance, then the food stamp portion of the bill would have not only been an easy sell to constituents but a game changer in the election. The bill would have immediately made it to a vote and passed under the mounting pressure on Republicans to line themselves up with the 47%. Democrats would have then been able to photo op in front of the cameras and declare that they stood up against the farm hating Republicans and got the bill through on behalf of the 47% of that Mitt Romney would toss off the rolls if elected. And of course interspersed throughout would be the economy left by GW Bush, the saving of the auto industry, teachers, firefighters, and policemen (not sure how it would relate but they seem to find their way into every discussion). What a missed opportunity, if only politicians watched the news to know what mainstream America is concerned about.

Mark Potwora
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So according to Ms.Hochul the farmers all agree that we need to grow the food stamp program for them to survive .....I find that hard to believe...Where does all this money come from...How does she propose to eliminate wasteful spending.....

Jeff Allen
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Just as I was giving her the benfit of the doubt, her office comes out that wildly absurd, and totally non-sensical statement. If I had the time, I'd drive around to local farms and ask if they agree with that statement. Let's hear from local farmers out there. Is it true that the majority of you beleive that the food stamp program is vital to the support of our local farming community and that if the farm supports were put up on their own, they wouldn't pass?. Apparently our local farms are major suppliers to the energy drink and potato chip industry.

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