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Entries in Farm bill (3)

Monday
Aug132012

Obama Blasts Ryan in Iowa for Blocking Farm Bill

JIM WATSON/AFP/GettyImages(COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa) -- Kicking off his campaign tour through Iowa, President Obama today wasted no time attacking Mitt Romney’s new running mate, accusing Rep. Paul Ryan of blocking aid to ranchers and farmers who have been hurt by the severe drought.

“I am told that Governor Romney's new running mate, Paul Ryan, might be around Iowa the next few days,” Obama said. “He is one of the leaders of Congress standing in the way. So if you happen to see Congressman Ryan, tell him how important this farm bill is to Iowa and our rural communities.”

“We've got to put politics aside when it comes to doing the right thing for rural America and for Iowa,” Obama said to applause from the roughly 4,000 supporters gathered in Bayliss Park.

The fresh line of attack is part of a broader effort by the president to cast Romney’s VP pick as obstructionist and responsible for the partisan gridlock in Washington.

"This weekend my opponent, Mr. Romney, chose as his running mate the ideological leader of the Republicans in Congress. And I've got to tell you, I know Congressman Ryan. He's a good man. He's a family man. He is an articulate spokesman for Governor Romney's vision. But the problem is that vision is one that I fundamentally disagree with," Obama said.

The president continued to road test his attacks against the Romney-Ryan ticket as he accused his opponents of wanting to end Medicare "as we know it" to pay for a tax cut for millionaires and billionaires.

Obama is spending three days in Iowa, trying to recapture support in the state that catapulted his presidential bid in 2008. Ryan is also campaigning in the Hawkeye State today on his first solo trip since joining the Romney campaign.

In addition to attending seven campaign events over the course of the bus tour, the president revealed he also plans to stop by the state fair, although the visit is not on his official schedule.

“Michelle has told me I cannot have a fried Twinkie,” Obama joked. “But I will be checking out the butter cow. And I understand this year there is a chocolate moose. So I'm going to have to take a look at that if I can.”

Some things have changed, however, since Obama campaigned at the fair four years ago. “The last time I went to the state fair, Secret Service let me do the bumper cars… I wasn't president yet, so I could do that, but not this time,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug022012

Congress Stalls on Summer Drought Assistance

File photo. Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- While the House of Representatives and the Senate have both voted to aid livestock producers affected by the extreme droughts plaguing the nation, that drought aid is unlikely to reach those who need it soon.

The two houses passed different versions of the drought assistance, and soon they’re off for a summer recess. An agreement on the drought assistance looks unlikely.

As the country faces severe drought conditions and Congress struggles to agree on a long-term farm bill, House Republicans opted Thursday for $383 million in emergency assistance, although the Senate is unlikely to approve the measure. The relief bill would also restore authorization that lapsed last year for numerous programs that target livestock producers.

The House legislation, which passed by a vote of 223 to 197, picked up the support of 35 Democrats, while 46 Republicans voted against it.

The Senate voted June 21 on a package totaling nearly $1 trillion to set the nation’s agricultural and food policy for the next five years. It also included some drought assistance.

Back in the lower chamber, supporters of the drought assistance package argued that Congress should act not only for producers but also for the entire nation.

“It’s important to remember that it’s not just farmers affected by this drought,” Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., said. "The consequences of this disaster impact all Americans from those living in the biggest cities to those living in the most remote areas of this country.”

Democrats voting in opposition argued that the trade-offs for restoring old programs and proposing new financial policies is not worth slashing other programs, like food stamps, which face a $1.6 billion cut.  Some Democrats, like Colorado Democrat Jared Polis, claim the bill only promotes the livestock industry.

“Our severe concerns around droughts in the West and across the country are critical,” Polis said. “But we mustn’t gut programs that are some of the very programs that can help prevent the impact of droughts in seeking to bail out a particular industry.”  He also contended that other factors, like climate change, must be considered when dealing with droughts, not just the proposition of a “cow bailout.”

Democrats maintain that the legislation focuses on the wrong aspects of the problem by proposing a limited drought bill instead of one with an emphasis on farming. Minority House Leader Nancy Pelosi decried the bill as one written without proper time to debate or make modifications.

“Our economy needs us to have a farm bill,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “We would like to see a farm bill come to the floor that then can go to conference and that can resolve this. This is a responsibility we know we have.”

House Republicans remain divided on a long-term plan, although House Speaker John Boehner called Thursday’s action “responsible.”

“You’ve got the left concerned about reductions in the food stamp program,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “You’ve got the right who don’t think they go -- the cuts -- go far enough in the food stamp program to bring it into compliance with what the law has been and frankly I haven’t seen 218 votes in the middle the pass the [long-term] farm bill.”

Lawmakers are now leaving Washington for summer recess over the next five weeks, returning to Washington for legislative business on Sept. 10.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun152012

McCain Hits Catfish, Popcorn Carveouts in Farm Bill

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Do catfish deserve a separate inspection service for $30 million of taxpayer money?  This and other fishy amendments to the $969 billion farm bill drew the ire of Sen. John McCain on Thursday.

More than 100 amendments have been filed to the bill that weighs in at a whopping 1,010 pages. At a cost of $969 billion over 10 years, that's about $1 billion per page of legislation, a 60 percent increase from the previous far bill, which passed in 2008.

McCain, the king of busting pork barrel spending, took to the Senate floor Thursday morning to highlight the most egregious additions in the bill.

"A farm bill being 1,000 pages long is filled with special deals for special interests," McCain said.  "When we examine the bill, we find more and more of these kinds of special interest, unnecessary spending and programs that either are protectionist in nature, programs that have been inserted sometimes in the past in the middle of the night."

McCain debuted a "Top Ten" list of the worst offenders in the farm bill, which he deemed "ugly."

Atop the list, the farm bill creates a new U.S. Department of Agriculture office to inspect catfish.  The price tag is hefty: $30 million to create the office and $14 million each year thereafter -- for an office, McCain notes, to inspect catfish, which are already inspected by the Food and Drug Administration.

"Catfish farmers have tried to argue that we need a catfish inspection office to ensure Americans are eating safe and healthy catfish," McCain said.  "I wholeheartedly agree that catfish should be safe for consumers.  The problem is, FDA already inspects catfish, just as it does all seafood, screening it for biological and chemical hazards."

Also leading the list, the inclusion in the bill of a carve-out for popcorn subsidies.

"Under the farm bill, popcorn will be subsidized to the tune of $91 million over ten years," McCain said.  "There isn't a kernel of evidence that they need this subsidy."

Beans and peas attracted McCain's wrath.  The bill calls for $25 million to study the health benefits of peas, lentils and garbanzo beans.

"I know that mothers all over America that have advocated for their children to eat their peas will be pleased to know that there's a study that's going to cost them $25 million to study the health benefits of peas, lentils and garbanzo beans," McCain said.

Other worst offenders noted by McCain: $200 million for the value-added grant program, which gives grants to novelty producers like small wineries and cheese makers, and $40 million in grants from the Department of Agriculture to encourage private landowners to use their land for bird watching or hunting.

It should be noted that McCain himself has a "non-germane" amendment to the farm bill, which would require the administration to report by August on the full effects of the $500 billion in automatic defense cuts slated to take effect starting next year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio