Blunt, McCaskill urge action on Farm Bill

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U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt said he wants the U.S House of Representatives pass a farm bill before a September first deadline.

Speaking with reporters Thursday morning, Blunt said passing the bill is a better idea than letting the deadline go by and voting for a stop gap measure that will continue the current policies.

“The farm bill that the Senate voted for has better on-going farm policy than the farm policies we have right now and saves money,” Blunt said. “I’d like to see us get to that point if we could.”

Speaking with reporters earlier this week, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill said the bill needs to pass soon so that programs for cattle raisers — which expired in 2011 — can be restarted.

“And all of them are being caught in the efforts of a very, very extreme group of folks who basically want to shut down the government,” McCaskill said. “On the process, our livestock producers in Missouri are really going to get hurt.”

Earlier in the week, Sen. Claire McCaskill said Tea Party Republicans are stalling the farm bill in the House. Blunt said he believes the the farm bill’s critics have concerns based more on what part of the country they are from than what party they support.

“Senator McCaskill and I both voted for the farm bill in the Senate. But a number of our colleagues in both parties didn’t,” Blunt said. “I’m not sure that this is an issue that has as much ideological impact as it does regional impact.”

Stanton Thomas, a Saline County cattle farmer, urged lawmakers to pass the bill. Thomas said livestock producers in his area are beginning to sell off their herds because of the lack of good pasture, affordable hay and dried up ponds, streams even wells.

“A friend of mine the other day was telling me there may not be any cattle left north of Branson and the Springfield area after we get through this period of the next couple of weeks here,” he said.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture declared Missouri a disaster area because of a serious drought over the region. The federal designation opens up low-interest loans for Missouri farmers struggling in the heat.