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Congress To Punt Farm Bill Until After Election

September 20, 2012, 5:56 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Congress To Punt Farm Bill Until After Election
MINNEHAHA COUNTY, SD -

Congress is waiting until after the election to take up the farm bill, allowing the current bill to expire at the end of the month.

Congresswoman Kristi Noem calls the move 'frustrating;’ her Democratic opponent Matt Varilek says it's 'hard to believe,’ and farmers say it shows the 'lack of responsibility' in Washington.

While the current bill will expire September 30, important programs like crop insurance will not expire because that program is permanently authorized according to the Congressional Research Service. Most of the commodity programs cover the 2012 crop year, meaning the crops being harvested right now and marketed into the winter and spring are also covered.

Programs that have expired, or will expire, include the livestock disaster program and a program to cover milk income loss for dairy farmers.

But as Congress is getting ready to leave Washington to campaign for November without getting the bill passed, farmers are out in the fields right now in South Dakota getting their work done.

"It shows a complete lack of responsibility. We hired them to do a job and they aren't doing their job. They do some of their job, but they don't do all of their job," farmer Eric Kooistra said.

Kooistra is a farmer from Minnesota who was out harvesting his crop Thursday on land he rents in South Dakota. Kooistra says not getting a Farm Bill passed before the old one expires shows the dysfunction in Washington.

"I don't think it's just one party; I think it's both of them," Kooistra said.

Noem says she'll continue to push for passage of a Farm Bill even after the election, but on a scale of one to ten, her frustration is off the charts right now.

"It's probably an 11 or 12 how frustrating it is for me because really we need to do our work on time and we need to deal with things that are important. Slowing things down and not having people at the table when it's this critically important is a big frustration for me," Noem said.

Her Democratic opponent this fall, Matt Varilek, says it's unbelievable that Congress didn't even bother to pass an extension to the bill, but he says it shows that Noem's approach to get the legislation passed didn't work.

"She wasn't able to convince her own fellow leadership members to bring this bill up for a vote and now we see the result is no Farm Bill," Varilek said.

But even though Congress didn't get its work done on the bill, farmers in South Dakota will continue to do their work and wait on Washington.

"They say they're going to push it through.  They say they're going to push it through and they don't do a dang thing," Kooistra said.

Not passing a new Farm Bill by the time the old one expires isn't new.  The Congressional Research Service says in the past 40 years, only the 1973 and 1977 Farm Bill were passed before the September 30 deadline.

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