The “lame duck” edition Congress is in session and many issues remain unresolved with the pressure building to find compromises. Chuck Hassebrook, executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs, says one unfinished bill that’s critical to rural areas is the farm bill, which he says reaches much farther than just ag programs.
“The farm bill sets the rules for rural development programs, for support for small business development, support for community development,” Hassebrook says. “It sets the rules for conservation to insure we protect our land so that we leave our land as well to the next generation as we received it.”
The version of the farm bill that’s already passed the Senate would cut spending by nearly $24-billion, while the House version would slash $35-billion. Hassebrook is also looking to Congress for action on one particular element of green energy that’s important to this area of the country.
“They need to look at extending the production tax credit for wind energy,” Hassebrook says. “Wind energy has been a good thing for the Great Plains, for the Dakotas, for Nebraska, for Iowa and the entire region, but development of wind energy has come to a screeching halt because the tax credit for wind energy is expiring.”
Hassebrook says fast action by lawmakers on the farm bill and wind energy could provide a shot of confidence for the country. He says, “On a number of issues, it would behoove them to get it done now, quickly, as opposed to simply kicking the can down the road to next year when they’ll have to start over and it’s going to take a lot longer.”
Congress will also have to deal with the “fiscal cliff” as several tax credits are expiring, and a number of other tax issues. The Center for Rural Affairs is based in Lyons, Nebraska.