Nebraska Farmers Applaud Do-Nothing Congress for Farm Bill Vote
It's been called the "do-nothing Congress", and the do-what-it-takes farmers have been as frustrated as anyone.
They've been waiting for years to pass a farm bill.
St. Paul farmer Tim Scheer said, "Seems like it's taken forever to get this far, started to wonder if it would ever happen."
Forgive Scheer if he's tired of talking about the farm bill. The Corn Board chairman has been pushing Congress for a long time, without success until now, as the House votes yes.
He said, "It's good movement and we hope it continues through the Senate."
Clearing the House was the big hurdle, as conservatives fought for big cuts in food stamps.
Scheer explained, "The vast majority of the farm bill is food stamps and we understand that's an important part of what the farm bill does, and makes sure we feed our nation and that's a priority to farmers is to make sure we have enough food for everyone."
The big change for farmers is protection against loss.
"Crop insurance gives you that safety net to make sure when you put the crop in the ground you have some assurance that you have a chance of breaking even or maybe making a profit," Scheer said.
And with that emphasis on crop insurance, farmers like Tim Scheer say the focus has shifted away from direct payments.
He said, "I think it's important to remember farmers and farm organizations that represent us were the first ones to give up direct payments. We realize they weren't part of what made sense anymore."
Gone are $4.5 billion in subsidies whether or not someone farms, along with other reforms.
"And helps hard working taxpayers in finding an estimated $23 billion in savings. I support this return to regular order," Rep. Adrian Smith said.
Scheer said it would give farmers some confidence moving forward.
He said, "Hopefully it's a sign Congress is starting to work together better and we'll see lots of positive things."
Nebraska Farm Bureau said it wasn't a perfect bill, but agreed it was a good compromise.
There are still some issues farm groups would like to address.
Cattlemen in particular wanted changes in Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) to avoid retaliation from Canada and Mexico. They didn't get what they wanted there, but overall welcome the House vote.