The Farm Bill
On September 5, The Farm Bill Conferees initiated discussions with opening remarks on the legislation. A common theme of the opening comments, from most members, was the need to have a final Farm Bill completed by the end of September, prior to the current Farm Bill expiration. Taking center stage in the opening remarks were the crisis in farming and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program differences in the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill.
Although forestry was not a common theme, several committee members expressed the need to reform Federal Forest Management. This includes Representative Bishop (R-UT) who stated in his opening remarks, “We have an opportunity for meaningful forest reform, right now.” Representative Westerman (R-AR), the only forester in Congress, in his comments said, “Our National Forests are unhealthy, too dense, infested with insects and disease, and are burning up at record rates with record intensity.”
Although the conference committee expressed the need to complete a Farm Bill on time, they will be challenged to do so with limited legislative days scheduled in September.