Latta says bill necessary - with or without food and nutrition components PDF Print E-mail
Written by BILL RYAN, Sentinel Farm Editor   
Friday, 16 August 2013 09:06
U.S. Congressman Bob Latta speaking at the Agricultural Incubator. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
U.S. Congressman Bob Latta says the Farm Bill has to be a priority when Congress returns to work next month.
"It's important we get the farm bill done," the congressman said. "This has to be our prime mission when we return after Labor Day,"
Latta was the featured speaker Thursday morning at the monthly Agricultural Breakfast Forum held at the Agricultural Incubator Foundation near Haskins.
He believes it is vital that both houses come together and get the bill ironed out.
The house has passed a version of the farm bill which has separated the agricultural aspects of the bill from the food and nutrition aspects which include SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), which is the new moniker for what most people call food stamps.
Latta said he will favor passage either way.
"If we have to separate them, that is OK. The main thing is we have to get something passed," Latta said.
He said it is now up to the Senate to pass the bill and then the two houses have to set their conferences to resolve the expected differences between the versions. 
"It is so important to keep agriculture viable and sustainable. The farm bill is vital to that end," he said.
He noted how the stop-gap measures used to extend existing programs do not generate any reform or revisions.
"Many things have been done since the 1973 law. Just because that's the way it has been done, doesn't mean we need to keep doing it the same way," he said.
For example Latta explained that overwhelmingly the farmers he has talked with are supportive of the elimination of direct payments.
"They tell me, 'We don't need them.' But they still want protection with the safety net and conservation aspects of the bill," Latta said.
The congressman shared how many of the issues involve the difference between the representatives on both coasts as well as the Chicago area with the rest of the country.
"The agriculture voice is not as loud as it used to be," Latta said. "I often have to remind my colleagues who want these food programs that we have to grow this food first."
The congressman shared how many related issues before Congress are also vital to keeping farms viable in addition to the actual farm bill. Primarily he stressed the importance of reducing government regulations.
"The regulatory side is massive," Latta said noting what he called some "goofy regulations" such as requirements placed on how and when the children who live on the farms with their parents are regulated as to their role in the family farm.
He also noted the need for assuring it is easy for the next generation to succeed their parents in farm ownership, and the passage of immigration reforms that will assure farmers can use seasonal labor without issues or more regulations.
"We need to take this mess we call the IRS," Latta said.
He claimed he fully understands what a challenge that can be as he says he does his own taxes.
"If every member of Congress had to do their own taxes, we could get some reform."
He said statistics show in the early 1900s, 40 percent of the population were farmers, now it is only 1.7 percent.
He sees the importance of all efforts Congress can make for growers.
"We have the greatest food source in the world because of those people on the land."
Last Updated on Friday, 16 August 2013 09:52

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