Central New York Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle is concerned that the House of Representatives has not yet passed a farm bill. The current one is scheduled to expire September 30, but Congress is scheduled to finish its work this week and passage of a farm bill does not look likely.
Some political analysts say the bill is stalled primarily because House GOP leaders don't want a noisy fight over food stamps, which are funded through the farm bill, this close to the election.
The Republican Buerkle says the many competing interests just have not been able to reach compromise on the bill which includes funding for numerous and varied programs. Food stamps are among the many agricultural, energy, conservation and nutrition programs funded by the farm bill.
Buerkle is hopeful that at least a short-term extension will go through because in "upstate New York and all of New York state, our leading industries is the agriculture industry," she said. "While the needs of the various members of that industry are very different, which sometimes causes a problem, we need to be very attentive to making sure our farmers have what they need."
Not having a farm bill poses a particular problem for some Republicans in tight congressional races in rural areas like the Senate races in Montana and North Dakota, along with House races in South Dakota, Colorado and Iowa.
"What the problem is with lack of a farm bill, lack of a budget, all of these businesses, they don't know what to expect," Buerkle said. "They don't whether the bill is going to expire, if it's going to be temporarily extended... And that uncertainty is really, I think, a big deterrent to our economy and getting our economy going again."
Buerkle is in a close re-election race against Democrat Dan Maffei.