On the potential government shut-down…

“It appears they’re serious this time” about shutting the government down. “At some point, Congress has to decide whether to get serious about the deficit. If the (time is now), they need to figure out how to fund the government for the rest of this (fiscal) year and not do the one- or two-week extensions.”

On the Ryan plan…

“We’ve seen interpretations of the (Ryan) plan. We haven’t seen specific numbers yet. Nor has the House Agriculture Committee, to my knowledge — at least the last time we checked with them.”

There are “some broad ideas of what the (House) Budget Committee proposes to do. But, remember, the Budget Committee sets a number and it’s the Agriculture Committee that has to come up with the cuts. And again, the Agriculture Committee has not reacted” to the Ryan numbers.

On AFBF contact with Congress…

“We’ve talked to members of Congress and their staff, those on the Agriculture Committee. They’ve yet to get very specific numbers from the Budget Committee.

“There’s a general recognition that you can’t write the same farm bill we did three years ago with the resources available. Next year, when the farm bill is written, there will be even fewer resources.

“So, the question everyone has is not whether we’ll have the same money available today. We won’t and we know that. The question is what to do with the money that will be available.”

On writing previous farm bills…

“In previous farm bills, we’ve always felt there was opportunity to go out and get additional funding. For the coming farm bill, 37 or 38 programs don’t have a baseline after 2012 and aren’t projected to continue. In order to have them continue, there must be additional money coming from somewhere — either from other farm bill titles, like nutrition, commodities, conservation, crop insurance, or (get funds) outside the farm bill.

“Then, you run flat into the reality that we’ve got a deficit of about $1.5 trillion to $1.6 trillion this year. That’s just the deficit. And everyone is being cut and looking for money.

“That means you really have to prioritize. And that’s something we’ve been talking about with the (Farm Bureau) board. How do you prioritize? If there’s a dollar to spend, where do you spend it? What’s the most important thing to fund?”   

On nutrition versus farm programs…  

“The nutrition title is part of the farm bill. In the past, farm bills have passed by a collective group of interests: production agriculture to nutrition to conservation.

“It’s easier to do that in a time of increasing resources. Today, we find ourselves in a time of decreasing resources and everyone is worried about losing share out of the farm package.”

On the Columbia and Panama free trade agreements (FTAs)…

AFBF “President Bob Stallman, and several board members are returning from Columbia today. They were (in Columbia) for a week, meeting with farmers, ranchers, government officials and trade association folks in an effort to get the (FTA) moving.”

The latest movement between the U.S. and Columbia and Panama “is good news. Our preference is to get the (FTAs) done. I don’t think it matters one whit whether (as some congressmen prefer) they’re done in one package or done in sequence. We just want them done and done right away.

“Once (the FTAs) are with Congress, we’ll work like the dickens to get them passed. We think they’re good for agriculture and the country.”