Laws, Sausages and the Sequester

There are two things no one should ever witness being made... laws and sausages. As the clock winds down on yet another fiscal deadline in Congress,  many Americans are trying to determine how they will be impacted by the mandatory budgetary reductions that will occur on March 1st, unless Congress and the White House can strike another deal.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) recently put forward a fiscal package that contains several provisions of particular note to rural America. The farm bill extension approved by Congress in the fiscal cliff deal passed on New Year’s Day left many vital rural programs without any funding for 2013. Investments in rural small business development, beginning farmers and ranchers, value-added ventures, organic farmers, and renewable energy programs were all left on the cutting room floor, along with many others.

The farm bill provisions in the fiscal package recently introduced in the Senate would fix this funding mess and establish common-sense priorities for federal investment in rural America’s future. Congress must address the loss of these crucial rural investments in the disastrous farm bill extension that was included in the fiscal cliff legislation. Senator Stabenow and Senator Reid have taken an important first step in ensuring that happens.

Moreover, Congress also should address the Conservation Stewardship Program, which was mistakenly cut in their continuing budget resolution last fall and will stand idle for 2013 if Congress fails to correct their mistake.