Tom Rooney takes a stand on controversial farm bill

U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, joined 61 other House members in asking the leadership to bring the 2012 farm bill to the floor for a vote.

According to Rooney, the bill (HR 6083) is a measure to aid those 29 states, including Florida, currently experiencing drought conditions. Although primarily aimed at farmers, the bill (called the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act) would benefit everyone per Rooney, because conditions are “driving up grocery prices for American families. We can’t change the weather, but we can pass a farm bill to make sure farmers have the tools and support they need to continue producing a safe, abundant and affordable food supply.”

The bill’s estimated cost is $957 billion over the next 10 years. Although this figure is actually $35 billion less than relying upon current law, House leadership is reluctant to bring the matter up for a floor vote. Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called the dairy provisions of the bill “Soviet style,” and he has the full backing of the Heritage Foundation on this.

Ignoring the bill’s estimated savings, Michael Needham, chief executive of the foundation remarked, “With our nation’s debt approaching $16 trillion, we cannot afford another $1 trillion boondoggle.”

Both the House and Senate versions of the bill easily made it through their respective agriculture committees. House leadership appears to be the only hurdle.

According to Rooney, HR 6083 would accomplish the following:

• Extend all livestock disaster programs that were provided under the 2008 farm bill and are scheduled to expire.

• Protect and strengthen federal crop insurance.

• Allow farmers to build in supplemental insurance coverage to erase high deductibles.

• Reduce insurance premiums by letting farmers insure at the enterprise unit level.

• Increase the yields a farmer can cover under a policy by adjusting actual production history to mitigate the effects of past disasters.

• Meet the risk-management needs of underserved crops and areas.

Tom Rooney is Chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry.

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