La Crosse, WI (WXOW)-- As those farmers continue to battle the drought, many are critical of Congress. Both the House and Senate adjourned for the August recess without passing an extension of the so-called farm bill or a disaster relief package.
The Democrat-controlled Senate passed a 5-year-farm bill before adjournment, and that also included disaster relief. It also includes things like crop insurance and conservation programs.
But the bill stalled in the Republican-controlled House, which countered by passing a $380 million drought assistance package late last week, geared more towards assisting livestock farmers. However, the Senate did not vote on that package.
So neither bill can become law and take effect for at least the next five weeks while lawmakers are on break. Democrats say the House's proposal is a cop out, with the republicans not wanting to pass a long-term farm bill.
"I think what our farmers need now, more than ever, especially with the drought that's gripping our nation is some certainty," said Rep. Ron Kind (D-3rd District). "So they know what the plans are and what the rules will be, so they can make their decisions accordingly. That's why it's so important that we bring up a five-year farm bill, instead of kicking the can down the road again, doing some meaningless stop-gap disaster package that will only benefit a few livestock producers."
But Republicans say the disaster relief package is a short term solution, which can be useful as negotiations continue on a longer farm bill.
"I don't see how putting any water on a fire can be conceived as a cop out," said Julian Bradley, chair of the La Crosse County Republicans. "I think that's what this disaster package does. It says, ok we understand it's going to take a little longer to get a comprehensive bill together for the next five years, to cover the farming. So, what we need to do is put out the fire that's happening right now. And that's what this package does and it's a shame on the Senate for not taking it up before the recess."
Bradley says Congress will likely have to pass some form of farm-assistance legislation when it reconvenes in September.
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