The fiscal cliff compromise passed by the Senate in the wee hours of New Year’s Day morning only included a farm bill extension because of the so-called “dairy cliff” – but few are pleased with the concept.
“I am pleased that the final agreement also includes an extension of the 2008 Farm Bill through the end of September 2013,” said ranking minority member on the Senate Ag committee Pat Roberts (R-KS) in a statement. “While this extension is not the best possible bill, I believe it is the best bill possible at this time. It provides consumers certainty by avoiding the dairy cliff, and it provides certainty to our producers and their lenders as Congress continues work on a Farm Bill in 2013.”
National Milk Producers President and CEO Jerry Kozak called the nine-month extension of current farm policy “a devastating blow” to the nation’s dairy farmers. “After months of inaction, the plan that passed overnight as part of the fiscal cliff package amounts to shoving farmers over the dairy cliff without providing any safety net below,” said Kozak. “These stop-gap efforts don’t even qualify as kicking the can down the road. It’s little more than a New Year’s Day, hair-of-the-dog stab at temporarily putting off decisions that should have been made in 2012 about how to move farm policy forward, not offer more of the same.”
The Senate package passed by a vote of 89 to 8, with both of Iowa’s Senators – one from each party – voting against it for different reasons, although Republican Chuck Grassley said he did support extension of the farm bill. The others who voted against the deal in the Senate were Tom Carper (D-DE), Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Marco Rubio (R-FL). House leadership spent most of New Year’s Day trying to get the votes to pass the bill and finally approved the bill late in the evening by a vote of 257-167.