National Association of Conservation Districts President Gene Schmidt on Wednesday urged lawmakers to include the 2012 Farm Bill within a "Fiscal Cliff" deal.
"The Farm Bill cuts costs while increasing efficiencies and best management tools to care for our natural resources. Any deficit reduction deal should take a clear look at the 2012 Farm Bill as a responsible approach to managing our budget while also managing our most precious asset -- our natural resources.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said the White House was "very open" to including the farm bill as part of a fiscal cliff package, according to a report Tuesday from BuzzFeed Online.
The Senate-passed farm bill is slated to save $23 billion, while the House Agriculture Committee-passed bill would save $35 billion, when compared to outlays for the 2008 Farm Bill.
"The Farm Bill passed by the full Senate and the House Agriculture Committee includes substantial savings for taxpayers. These are real dollars that could be used to offset the looming automatic budget cuts," Schmidt said.
Despite the savings in both bills, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has not strongly committed to adding the legislation to the House floor for a full vote, other than comments during an October campaign stop, which he later recanted to clarify that the House will simply "deal with" the farm bill in the post-election.
"Congress has already done the heavy lifting on reaching a strong framework for a five-year Farm Bill. The differences between the Senate and House versions could be easily resolved. It makes a lot more sense to work with what we have, than to be forced to start the entire process over again next year," Schmidt said.
He further explained that producers deserve to have a framework in place to manage their land, resources and business.
Schmidt added, "The absence of a long-term Farm Bill will have serious consequences on everything from food security, to the economy, and the conservation of the land, air and water we rely on every day."