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Published July 20, 2010, 08:13 AM

Ag chairman says a system needs to be in place

WASHINGTON — House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., wants Congress to finish the farm bill by late 2011 or early 2012 to make sure the Obama administration implements the bill.

By: Jerry Hagstrom, Special to Agweek

WASHINGTON — House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., wants Congress to finish the farm bill by late 2011 or early 2012 to make sure the Obama administration implements the bill.

Peterson earlier had said Congress should be sure to finish the bill before Sept. 30, 2012, when the 2008 bill expires. But in a speech to the National Corn Congress on July 14, Peterson said time had been lost in the implementation of the 2008 bill because of the shift between the Bush and Obama administrations.

“There may or may not be a change of administration, but if there is, we should have a system in place,” Peterson said.

Peterson also said he thinks that the next farm bill may have less money to spend than the current one. Peterson said he thinks that the deficit commission jointly established by Congress and the White House “may have some traction,” which might mean writing a farm bill while Congress tries to reconcile the budget.

Peterson also told the corn growers he understands that ethanol may matter more to them than the farm bill. Peterson said he is troubled by the delays at the Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy Department in approving gasoline with a higher ethanol content. But Peterson praised Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for his work on ethanol. Vilsack “really understands ethanol,” Peterson said. “He is trying to get (White House aide Carol) Browner, (EPA Administrator Lisa) Jackson and (Energy Secretary Stephen) Chu to do what they should.”

Peterson said that he had brought all the players on ethanol together for a meeting, including the American Petroleum Institute, ethanol groups and convenience store and gasoline station owners. “They say they like ethanol but they are headed in different directions,” Peterson said.

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