Every year, politicians and political hopefuls turn out for lunch at Penn State’s Ag Progress Days in Pennsylvania Furnace, Centre County.
This year, that included Democratic Senator Bob Casey and Republican U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta.
Casey urged those at the lunch Wednesday to push both parties to make the Farm Bill not just a bipartisan effort, but one that gets passed on time.
“If we get it done this fall, it will be the first time since 1990, and we want Pennsylvania to lead the way,” said Casey, who is running for his third term in the U.S. Senate and sits on the agriculture committee.
The Senate and House have passed different versions of the Farm Bill, a massive piece of legislation with funding for agriculture, research and the federal nutrition program known as SNAP or food stamps. The House version has stiffer work requirements.
“That’s the kind of policy that will prevent the farm bill from being enacted into law,” Casey said.
He said a Senate controlled by Republicans voted to table that idea.
Barletta, who serves in the U.S. House and is running against Casey, said he understands the challenges farmers are facing. He said he would like to see a guest worker program that works for farmers.
“We’re going to make sure that our immigration policies in Washington understand that agriculture is different than any other industry, and we have to make sure that you have the workers and the guest worker program that actually works for the farmer," Barletta said.
He also took aim at what he called overregulation by Washington.
“Sometimes a mud puddle is just a mud puddle," Barletta said. "It’s not a federal navigable water.”
Ag Progress Days continues through Aug. 16.