U.S. Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-Colona) today called on both parties to set aside their differences and work toward the common goal of helping American farmers. With both House and Senate leadership guilty of foot-dragging on issues critical to the agricultural community, Schilling said that the time has come to get a bipartisan farm bill passed.
"I've heard from hundreds of local farmers and agricultural leaders, and we simply can't afford to wait any longer on this," Schilling said. "Our district is an agricultural powerhouse that depends on getting the farm bill done."
Schilling has been a vocal supporter of getting a five-year farm bill passed. Schilling supports the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act, passed by the House Agriculture Committee 35-11, which would save taxpayers an estimated $35 billion over 10 years while setting forth new policies on trade, commodities, and rural development. The bill also reauthorizes the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), while achieving $16 billion in new savings within the program. The passage of this bill would support more than 16 million agriculture jobs nationwide.
Schilling also supported H.R. 6233, the Agricultural Disaster Assistance Act, which would provide badly needed drought relief to struggling farmers. The bill passed the House in a bipartisan vote, but the Senate failed to take action on the bill before the August recess.
"I'm calling on leadership of both parties to bring these bills to a vote and pass them immediately," Schilling said. "The House needs to set politics aside and pass the farm bill, and the Senate needs to stop politicking and pass the disaster relief bill."
In July, Schilling, along with a bipartisan group of 79 lawmakers, sent a letter to House leadership—including Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi—calling for a vote on the FARRM Act before the August recess. The plea went unanswered.
Schilling, who voted against adjourning for August recess, said that getting these two bills passed should be "priority number one" when Congress resumes in September.
"This should have been done before recess—that would have been the right thing to do," Schilling said. "This needs to be priority number one when we return to session. Our farmers can't wait forever—I won't rest until we get these critical bills done."
Existing agricultural programs will expire on September 30 if Congress fails to act. Full text of the FARRM Act can be found here.