BY CARROLL SMITH
When the House and Senate finally passed the so-called fiscal cliff bill, it happened on Jan. 1, 2013, and extended what we typically refer to as the 2008 Farm Bill through Sept. 30, 2013.
After the extension was announced, the USA Rice Federation noted that, “The bill authorizes direct payments at no reduction for the 2013 crop year, retains the Market Access and Foreign Development Programs at mandatory funding levels and makes no crop insurance program changes.”
The organization also said, “Lawmakers should not allow to go unfinished three years of hard work devoted to writing the new Farm Bill.”
On 1/3/2013, a total of 94 (9+4 = 13) freshman lawmakers were sworn into the 113th Congress. In truth, I am not a superstitious person or a believer in numerology, but I do have a penchant for puzzles. Therefore, it is puzzling to me that the 112th Congress could not come up with a five-year Farm Bill that would provide farmers and ranchers some type of long-term certainly under which they could operate.
So, now, I am reduced to wondering whether the 113th Congress, with its 94 (13 numerical total) freshman lawmakers, will be willing and able to come up with new farm legislation in 2013 that will provide a basis for those in agriculture to make sound, long-term business decisions. Hopefully, it will not be resolved on Friday, Sept. 13, for those of you who harbor superstitious tendencies that cast the number 13 in a negative light.
On a more serious note, USA Rice Producers’ Group Chairman and Texas rice producer Linda Raun says, “We are grateful to the leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees for their work on the Farm Bill and this extension. We particularly wish to extend our gratitude to Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Congressman Collin Peterson (D-MN) for their unwavering support to ensure that farm policy works for America’s rice farmers.
“With the steadfast support from these House leaders, Senate Ag Committee members John Boozman (R-AR), Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Saxby Chamliss (R-GA), and all rice-state lawmakers, we believe that America’s rice farmers and industry will continue to contribute to the economic and environmental well-being of our country,” she adds.
If this type of positive support from the lawmakers that Raun has named in her remarks continues, and we pick up even more from other seasoned members of Congress as well as the incoming freshmen, then 2013 could indeed turn out to be a lucky year for the U.S. rice industry as well as all of our nation’s agricultural entities.
Send your comments to: Editor, Rice Farming Magazine, 1010 June Road, Suite 102, Memphis, Tenn., 38119. Call (901) 767-4020 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.