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Maffei says partisan politics hurting Farm Bill legislation

Ian Lamont

Farmers aren't the only ones worrying about Congress' failure to come to an agreement on the Farm Bill. Syracuse-area Rep. Dan Maffei says partisan politics have gotten in the way, and are hurting Congress' ability to move legislation forward.

Maffei says the Farm Bill, and the legislation connected to it, which includes the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, should be passed, though both Republicans and Democrats need to compromise on their positions.

"We should reform it to make sure that they can't be abused, but it's good for farmers and it's good for poor people," Maffei said. "And it's good for all of us to make sure that children coming to school have good nutrition. So, there's a lot of basic things that I think we have broad agreement on, certainly in central New York we have broad agreement on these things. And they do effect central New York when we can't move anything through Congress."

The Farm Bill isn't just connected to food stamps. Maffei, a Democrat, says gridlock in Congress is pushing the Farm Bill legislation into dangerous territory. If it isn't passed by the end of the year, milk could rise to about $7 a gallon, while dairy producers sell their milk to the U.S.D.A. at inflated prices.

Last year, Congress narrowly beat a similar deadline for the legislation, issuing a temporary extension to the 2008 Farm Bill.

But Maffei says he would like to see Congress come to a conclusion on the legislation.

"We want to make sure we get price stabilization for dairy farmers, and that we do reauthorize the so-called SNAP Program, food stamps, for people who are poor and need food aid," Maffei said.

SNAP funding has become a major sticking point in talks, with House Republicans calling for slashes to the program. On November 1, funding for food stamps was cut by $5 billion.