Opinion: Support for Farm Bill
Friday, October 19, 2012
Kearney (Neb.) Hub on the federal farm bill, from Oct. 5, 2012:
Don't allow federal lawmakers to shrug off their inability to pass the 2012 Farm Bill by claiming their inaction before recessing for the campaign season won't affect very many Americans. That's a cop-out.
The U.S. Senate and House Ag Committee both passed their versions of the farm bill, but the full House of Representatives did not take up the legislation before the election recess. Lacking a vote in the full House, the farm bill expired Sept. 29.
Farmers who need to finance their planting for next year may face problems completing that process because neither they nor their lenders will know exactly what to expect when Congress revisits the farm bill after the November elections.
Also waiting with concern are farmers who depend upon federal programs to boost foreign trade, fight soil erosion and help dairy operations.
Dairy farmers have uncertainty because the Milk Income Loss Contract program has expired. ...
The USDA's Foreign Market Development Program is a cost-sharing trade promotion partnership with agricultural producers and processors, but its funding will run out later in October. ... Thirty-one percent of U.S. gross farm income comes from exports, which also help to counter our nation's trade imbalance.
Finally, there will be no new signups in the Conservation Reserve Program. About 6.5 million acres are enrolled in CRP, a voluntary land retirement program that helps ag producers fight erosion, restore wildlife habitat, and safeguard ground and surface water.
In addition to CRP, signups have ceased for wetlands and grasslands reserve programs. ...
It seems unlikely that the same legislators who dropped the ball before the election will be of much use to America's farmers after the election.