Congressman Bruce Braley held Farm Bill “listening sessions” in northeast Iowa Wednesday.
A small but passionate group of people showed up at the Manchester Public Library to voice their concerns to Braley. While some thanked Braley for his efforts, others expressed frustrations over not only the Farm Bill, but the progress of Congress in general. Braley says he shares those frustrations, too – and is doing everything he can to move the Farm Bill along.
“It’s been frustrating because we didn’t even get a chance to vote on a Farm Bill in the last congress in the House and so I have made it a priority to try to bring Democrats and Republicans together to pass a Farm Bill that is bipartisan,” Braley said, “and will get the support of both the House and Senate and send it to the president for his signature.”
Braley said the Farm Bill’s passage is important “to every American.”
“And yet a lot of Americans have gotten disconnected from how their food is raised, how it’s produced and how it winds up on their dinner table,” Braley said, “so part of what we have to do is make sure everybody in congress understands this bill is absolutly critical to our country and we can’t afford to let it languish.”
Some of the people who met with Braley in Manchester are concerned about the portion of the Farm Bill that deals with “food stamps” and other nutrition programs. Some expressed support for House Republican efforts to put federal farm programs in one bill and federal food assistance programs in another.
“That sounds like a very simple solution to this problem, but the reality is that the changing population shifts of this country make it very difficult for us to have a Farm Bill in any form unless we take up the key issues of the Farm Bill including the nutrition title, the energy title, the commodity title, the rural economic development title,” Braley said. “They’re all pieces of a very important puzzle.”
The current one-year extension of the Farm Bill expires on September 30th — and House leaders have only scheduled votes on nine days in September.
“It’s absolutely critical we make this our top priority,” Braley said, “but we need to get this one off the table.”
Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo who is running for the U.S. Senate in 2014, also held Farm Bill Listening Sessions Wednesday in Peosta and Independence.
(Reporting by Janelle Tucker, KMCH, Manchester)