Farm Bill Frustration Grows as Congress Delays Vote


Picking corn on his birthday, Brandon Hunnicutt is in the field far earlier than normal because of drought.

"Irrigated corn yields in central Nebraska are going to be really good, which is a pleasant surprise," he said.

The crop looks good, but his biggest frustration is with Congress' failure to pass the Farm Bill.

"Apparently they can't get their act together," Hunnicutt said.

Most blame Republicans in the House of Representatives for failing to get the Farm Bill passed. Rep. Adrian Smith says he's disappointed.

Smith issued a statement, saying "This unwillingness in Congress to get something done only adds to the very long list of decisions that must be made, so when Congress reconvenes in November, it is absolutely urgent we come to agreement on long-term farm policy."

Smith could have supported a procedural vote to "discharge" the bill, but didn't, saying the bill was "destined for defeat." While called the Farm Bill, food and nutrition programs are the biggest expenses. Smith said the food stamp program in particular has grown and needs to be reformed. Smith said his decision does not reflect his level of support for agriculture.

As chairman of the Nebraska Corn Growers, Brandon Hunnicutt wanted Smith to work to pass the bill now.

He said, "We expect our representatives in Nebraska, especially the 3rd District which is the single largest corn producing and ethanol producing district in the country to be on the forefront of getting this thing accomplished."

Adding to their frustration -- farmers agreed to billions in cuts.

"I think we went above and beyond what we could do to go out and say, OK we're willing to
give up direct payments, there's a lot of things we're willing to do," Hunnicutt said.

The farm bill has backing on both the left and right from groups including Farm Bureau and Farmers Union. Plus it includes disaster programs like crop insurance that would help during historic drought.

On his birthday, Brandon Hunnicutt celebrates a good harvest, but is disappointed for fellow corn growers.

"We can't be putting guys in flux like that, especially in a year like we've just seen," he said.

Smith said the bill was "doomed for failure" and forcing a vote would have been a setback. He hopes to get the bill passed in the session after the election.

In a written statement, he said, "passing a Farm Bill and preventing any lapse in federal farm policy is one of my highest priorities. However, I don't believe signing a petition to discharge a bill destined for defeat is in the best interest of producers, nor should be used to litmus test support of agriculture. I am not alone in this view. Farm state Representatives from both sides of the aisle acknowledge a bill forced to the House floor doomed for failure would set us back even further."