Lame Duck Session Fraught With Potential Perils for Ag Sector, AFBF’s Mary Kay Thatcher SaysSun, 11 Nov 2012 22:30:15 CST
When Congress comes back for the lame duck session there will be a lot on their plates. Budget considerations top that list as does the Farm Bill. Both are intertwined and have broad-reaching implications for the future of ag producers.
Mary Kay Thatcher is a lobbyist in the Washington D.C. office of the American Farm Bureau Federation. She recently visited with Ron Hays about what has to be done in Congress to move the Farm Bill forward while at the same time keeping an eye toward budget cuts and sequestration. She will appear on News 9 this Saturday morning about 6:40 a.m. Thatcher said there are a number of key issues Congress members will be looking at during the lame duck session.
Thatcher says there are a tremendous number of issues that need to be dealt with during the lame duck session. She believes the status quo that came out of the November elections could mean that there is no reason that a lot of the work that should be done this calendar year can be done. And that includes a five year farm bill.
Thatcher says one of the road blocks to getting a lot of legislative work done in November-December will be returning members of Congress busy talking to leadership as they make a pitch for the Committee or Leadership role they would like in the new session of Congress. That will take away from work that needs to be done.
Thatcher sees a chance to get a five year farm bill done, if the Republican leadership will get behind Congressman Lucas and allow him to run his bill without being swept away by a huge wave of amendments. At some point, if the Congressional Leadership does not scheudle time for the bill- a push will have to be made to get a short term extension to the recently expired farm law to mitigate negative impacts in multiple programs after the first of January.
That would push Farm Bill action into 2013- a time when there will be less money to write new policy with.
With the fiscal cliff looming at the end of December, sequestration and its across-the-board budget cuts draw ever closer. Thatcher said that would be a nightmare scenario with a multitude of unintended effects.
“Well, it won’t be pretty and I never think it’s a good idea to have these across-the-board cuts. I always think it’s better to have people who are writing the legislation who understand the implications of ‘If I do one thing to one program it implicates this one over here or makes changes over here.’ So, that wouldn’t be a good thing. I think it would be much better if we can indeed do what we have now. Are we going to get 23 billion versus sequestration number of about 15? Yes. But, I have to believe the committees will do it the right way if they do it versus just having to take an across the board with the sequestration.”
Thatcher says that AFBF is very concerned about how active the Obama Administration's efforts will be in new and expanded regulations. She says they will be watching for a potential flood of regulations from the EPA in the immediate future- things that could make farming and ranching either a lot more costly in terms of compliance, or more difficult to be in compliance- or BOTH. The election put a lot of potential regs on hold- but Thatcher is convinced the pause button is about to be released.
Finally, Mary Kay Thatcher laments the demise of the Blue Dog Democrats, saying we had about fifty of them four years ago- this year before the Elections we had 24- in 2013- that number will shrink further to 16. The loss of moderate Democrats and Republicans makes it harder than ever to find a majority on many issues.
Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear the full conversation between Mary Kay Thatcher and Ron Hays.
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