Plants want to produce as many seeds as possible
Lynn Tjeerdsma, senior policy advisor for Sen. John Thune, was a guest at the Chamber Ag Committee and the Government Affairs Committee in Aberdeen last week. Lynn participated in drafting and administering the last five Farm Bills in Washington, three in the U.S. Senate and two while at USDA. He currently owns the family farm near Platte.
Last year, Lynn met with the committees in Aberdeen and shared his thoughts on getting the 2012 Farm Bill passed. At that time, he thought it would be accomplished.
Returning this year, he noted that he couldn’t outguess Congress. He’s concerned that when Congress returns to Washington in September, there will be only 12 legislative days for members to work through issues with the Farm Bill. Trying to get that done will be a major accomplishment, considering the wide differences between the Senate and House versions
Lynn said more and more of the members on the ag committee are not tied to agriculture. This year, 45 members on the ag committee have never worked on a Farm Bill. Lots of gerrymandering in legislative districts have brought about major changes in rural coalitions.
One of the major concerns in the ag world is the splitting of the food and nutrition title from the farm portion. It’s questionable how Washington functions and compromise will be needed to resolve the issues.
Congress needs to pass the legislation before the Sept. 30 deadline. If the Farm Bill doesn’t pass by then, the current programs will cover the 2013 crops. In theory, the country would eventually revert to the agricultural rules written back in 1949, when the last permanent farm bill was enacted (subsequent bills have all been temporary). That 1949 act was crafted for a very different United States. We hope it doesn’t get down to figuring out how that will work.