Drought-stricken farmers need reformed farm bill, Coats says
By Maria Amante email@example.com/648-3072 July 27, 2012 11:24PM
US Senator Dan Coats, (r) Indiana. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 29, 2012 12:28PM
In light of the drought conditions facing most of the state, U.S. Sen. Dan Coats is concerned about the status of the popularly dubbed “Farm Bill,” which offers protections to farmers.
Farmers whose crops have been adversely affected by the drought would see aid from the bill. The existing programs expire in September. In Indiana, he said, farmers are desperate for the programs: more than 70 percent of corn crops were considered “poor” or “very poor” in quality.
However, the bill is held up in the House of Representatives, Coats said during a trip to Northwest Indiana.
“There are provisions in that, relative to relief, drought relief, that are important to our farmers that are suffering right now,” he said. “It removes the uncertainty about whether or not they can get the relief that they need.”
Some subsidies will be eliminated, but new provisions have been added for emergency support through low-cost loans and potential aid, he said.
“Basically, we’re not going to get much more crop out of this year,” Coats said. “I don’t just want to see the House enact a short-term extension (of the previous law) because we made very necessary reforms in the Senate. ... We made a big stride forward in this Senate-passed farm bill that I would hate to see lost simply because we did a short-term extension.”
Coats discussed his desire to rein in spending and debt in relation to the farm bill.
“We need to look at every piece of legislation and say, ‘How can we reform this in a way that still provides the support that’s needed but does it in a more cost-efficient way?’ ” Coats said.
He also said he wanted that philosophy extended to other government programs, eliminating waste and duplicate programs. He said there are more than 50 literacy programs funded by the federal government, and that it may be worth a review to see if those programs can be consolidated.
“Can’t that be consolidated into a handful?” he asked. “Over the years, we have just kept adding and adding and adding and haven’t had the financial discipline to do that.”
Coats discussed several other topics:
Coats on the election:
“Obviously, I’m supporting Richard Mourdock and I’m going to do whatever I can to help, I think this is going to be a good year for Republicans in Indiana. Our candidate for governor is a strong candidate, doing well for all I can tell; we have seven congressmen that are in position and campaigning very well. I think this is a year ... it looks like a strong Republican year in Indiana, and that will be very helpful to Richard Mourdock, but he’s running a very strong campaign.”
On Richard Lugar:
“Well, we served together, I have a lot of admiration for Senator Lugar. He was a distinguished senator who served our state well and served our country and the world, but, you know, there are, I guess for everything there’s a time, and the people of Indiana decided they wanted a new face.”
On Northwest Indiana:
“We are working really hard with this Asian carp issue. ... We’re helping out with the Gary airport, we’re helping out with the Cline Bridge issue, working with the (Northwest Indiana Forum, with whom Coats also met on his visit Friday) on all their issues that affect transportation in this area. Little Calumet, we’re working with the Corps of Engineers, finishing that project on the Little Calumet River, which has been a big priority in this area for a while.”
On working for a President Mitt Romney in the Cabinet:
“All I want to do is be a good senator for state of Indiana.”
On running for re-election in 2016:
“I have no idea. I haven’t even given it any thought. I’m still in the first two years of a six-year term. I get up every day and do the best I can. We’ll see where we are a few years from now.”