A farm policy architect in the Bush Administration finds a silver lining in the failure of the Congressional Super Committee to agree on a modest deficit reduction package. Former USDA Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner says the chairmen of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees engaged in a worthwhile effort to pass a new farm bill via the Super Committee process.
"There's been a lot of dialogue, a lot of important dialogue in the last few weeks on the future of farm policy," Conner said. "And I think that dialogue will be valuable to us as presumably the leadership of the House and the Senate Agriculture Committee will be ready very early next year to pick up where we left off here and begin a farm bill process under more regular order and I think that can be a healthy, good process."
That's not to say that Conner, now the President and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, believes writing the farm bill under regular order, complete with public hearings and markups, will be easy.
"We're going to have to make a strong case for what we do because of those out there that are against farm programs," Conner said. "But you know we ought to be able to do that and if we do our work right and are prudent about it I think we can overcome those people like the Environmental Working Group and others who are just simply going to be against any kind of farm program."The hurry-up farm bill deliberations led to some hurt feelings; Senate Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., claims he was shut out of the process. But Conner says he has no doubt that the four top Ag Committee leaders on Capitol Hill will patch up their differences and do what they need to do on behalf of American agriculture.