If you want to understand the varied interests covered in the farm bill, look no further than the 532 groups that sent Speaker John A. Boehner a letter Tuesday asking the Ohio Republican to bring the farm bill back to the House floor as soon as possible without splitting it into pieces.
There are, to put it mildly, some obscure interest groups involved. Here are our top 5:
The archery group, whose website currently leads with an article titled "Moms + Archery = $," has interest in a new farm bill because of the conservation provisions. The farm bill preserves open lands for hunting. Less habitat means less stuff to shoot with your bow and arrow. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the House farm bill includes $56.7 billion for conservation programs, which is actually a $4.8 billion reduction from current policy. But if the farm bill is not reauthorized, many of those open lands could be sold.
The Archery Trade Association's website says it was "conceived" during the 1947 National Archery Tournament in Salt Lake City as an organization to "harness the energies of the archery industry to ensure its long-term survival." The organization launched in 1953 as the Archery Manufacturers and Dealers Association and changed its name multiple times before settling on the ATA.
PFSP — not to be confused with the Pollinator Partnership, which also signed the letter — is a natural organization to support the farm bill. It represents farm interests, albeit bee farmer interests. Still, beekeeping is an ancient profession that provides ecosystem services worth $8 billion to U.S. agriculture each year.
The PFSP says it works with farmers and beekeepers to improve the health of honey bees and support native pollinators. It wants increased availability of flowering plants for honey bees and native pollinators. The House farm bill would reauthorize Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-Raised Fish.
Pheasants Forever says it is dedicated to the conservation of pheasants, quail and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land management policies and programs.
Pheasants Forever is another group interested in the conservation title of the farm bill, as well as the grazing lands provisions. It has more than a passing interest in the bill. In fact, Pheasants Forever announced on Tuesday it has a new farm bill range/wildlife biologist, who will help oversee the Agriculture Department's Natural Resources Conservation Service Sage-Grouse Initiative. If you were somehow unfamiliar with the sage-grouse, it is a ground-dwelling bird native to the sagebrush ecosystem of the American West.
The CCPA, established in 1922, is the nation's oldest farm bargaining association. They establish raw product prices for peaches and help find a "home for every peach grown by its member-growers." As a canned fruit organization, it benefits greatly from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps. According to the CBO, the House farm bill includes $743.9 billion over the next 10 years for SNAP.
That's a lot of canned peaches — even if House Republicans want to reduce SNAP spending by $20.5 billion over 10 years.
The Commission, as some presumably call it, was established in 1978 to help California's nearly 5,000 avocado growers by increasing demand for avocados through advertising, promotion and public relations. Like its California brother organization, the CCPA, the Commission has a deep interest in the farm bill because of SNAP funding. SNAP benefits can be used to buy fruits, like the avocado, and California produces nearly 90 percent of the nation's alligator pears (aka avocados).
Those five groups, along with 527 others, sent Boehner the letter Tuesday to "strongly urge" him to bring the bill back to floor after its surprise defeat in the House, 195-234.
"This important legislation supports our nation’s farmers, ranchers, forest owners, food security, natural resources and wildlife habitats, rural communities, and the 16 million Americans whose jobs directly depend on the agriculture industry," the letter says.
Outside groups, such as the Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America, have been calling on House leaders to split the farm bill, even though they indicate that splitting the bill will not be enough to win their support.
The letter released Tuesday calls on the speaker to move "a unified farm bill forward," explaining that the groups believe "splitting the nutrition title from the rest of the bill could result in neither farm nor nutrition programs passing."