WASHINGTON — North-central Iowa Congressman Randy Feenstra says he remains hopeful Congress will act on a new Farm Bill before the end of the year. Feenstra and some colleagues sent a letter to House Speaker Mike Johnson, urging action on the measure, what could end up being the first trillion-dollar Farm Bill.
Feenstra also spoke with Pennsylvania Congressman G.T. Thompson, chair of the House Ag Committee, regarding the need to act. Feenstra says the bill’s critical components are hanging in the balance.
“We’ve got to open new export markets,” Feenstra says. “We’ve got to strengthen crop insurance, we’ve got to fight against animal disease. These are some big things. Ban China from buying our farmland. This farm bill’s critical. We’ve got to get it passed. So, we’re trying to figure out any way that we can try to get it done in late December yet, but it sounds like it may dip into January. So, we might have to do a two-month C.R. on this.” A C.R. is a continuing resolution, or a stopgap measure that extends the deadline.
Feenstra, a Republican from Hull whose district includes Franklin, Winnebago, Hancock, and Wright counties in our listening area, says the flap over the House Speaker’s position delayed work on the Farm Bill and other important issues.
“All of a sudden, we did no work for three weeks,” Feenstra says. “We didn’t pass any budget bills. So, that’s taken the forefront right now, is doing all the budget appropriation bills, to try and create a budget that was due September 30th that we haven’t got to yet. That’s all the floor time, that’s all we’re doing is debating right now–which is unfortunate.”
Feenstra says a one-year extension of the 2018 Farm Bill — which expired in late September — would be harmful to Iowa farmers and to certain programs.
“Our farmers need certainty,” he says. “They need certainty in the programs. These programs have all lapsed since September 30th. I’m just fearful if we go another year with some of the old programs, that’s going to be a problem. I really think about what’s happening with fighting against an animal disease. We cannot have African swine fever get into your hog production.”
Last week, Iowa Congressman Zach Nunn expressed confidence the House would avoid a one-year extension of the old farm bill.