September 20, 2012

Shinagawa, Reed Fight Over Farm Bill

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The two candidates running for New York’s 23rd Congressional seat both said this week that they favor a long-term extension of the federal farm bill, which is set to expire on September 30. However, they disagreed on the level of support the government should provide to farmers and food stamp recipients.

The current five-year law provides varying levels of federal support for farmers and ranchers. The Senate passed a bipartisan version of the bill earlier this year. However, House Republicans announced today that they will not bring the bill up for a vote until after the election.

“We will deal with the farm bill after the election,” said Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), according to CNN. He indicated that GOP leaders do not have the votes to pass either a short-term extension or a more comprehensive five-term bill.

In the 23rd district, which includes Ithaca, the bill is important to farmers who rely on federal subsidies to operate their businesses. Democrat Nate Shinagawa ’05 M.A. ’09, who is running against Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY), said he favors the Senate’s version because it reduces costs in the long run.

“Farmers in my district are telling me that they need a farm bill,” Shinagawa said at a press conference on Wednesday, according to The Ithaca Journal. “It’s so important that they have the stability of a five-year plan, and Congressman Tom Reed talked about a three-month extension, a five-month extension — people don’t need extensions, they need action on a farm bill, and so I support the Senate plan.”

Before Boehner’s announcement, Reed said that he believed a short-term extension would pass the House, although he admitted that the situation “doesn’t look good.” He said he would not support the Senate version because it is “just kind of status quo,” according to The Ithaca Journal.

“Because a five-year bill is so important, I think it’s worthwhile to maybe explore a short-term (proposal) — three months, six months, whatever the months may be — and then come at it,” Reed said.

Original Author: David Marten