MANKATO — Congressman Tim Walz, surrounded by local farmers and agriculture industry officials, urged Congress to pass the 2012 farm bill, currently stalled in the House of Representatives.
Walz urged congressional leaders, in particular House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, to allow the bill to the come before the full House for a vote.
“We’re here to make the case that Congress needs to get its work done and get a farm bill done,” said Walz on Monday while standing in a parking lot where the Mankato offices are of the Minnesota Soybean, Minnesota Pork Producers and the Pioneer seed company.
The farm bill has passed the Senate but has languished in the House. It passed 35-11 out of the House Committee on Agriculture but has thus far not been given a hearing in the full House.
“We want it brought to the floor,” Walz said.
Kevin Paap, a Lake Crystal farmer and president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau, urged passage of the farm bill.
“It’s time to get it done,” he said. “We’re burning daylight.”
Walz said he and other ag committee members heard the call from the Republican leadership that the farm bill needed to shrink. So they cut it. After tweaks were made, the bill went from $36 billion down to $25 billion. Still, there’s resistance.
“There’s a large group of new members who are opposed to new spending,” Walz said.
Some of those new members, Walz said, have asked that the farm bill be split up in to several smaller bills. The problem with that, he said, is that many of the farm states are small in population, and thus have fewer representatives. Fewer representatives means it’s harder to get bills passed that benefit farm states.
What people need to realize, Walz said, is that everyone eats, everyone needs clothing and everyone uses energy. The farm bill assists farmers in bringing all those things to all Americans.
“If we don’t get this thing done,” Walz said, “you will see higher food prices.”