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Farm Bill expired on Sept. 30

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 2 October 2013 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – Some beef cattle are pictured in Carlton back in April.

The federal budget isn’t the only deadline that passed on Sept. 30 without an agreement in Congress. The legislative body also failed to act on the Farm Bill, which sets the nation’s agricultural policy.

The Farm Bill is usually renewed in five-year agreements. Congress was unable to approve a five-year deal in 2012 and instead opted for a one-year extension. That expired on Monday.

“Only this time, the likelihood of a one-year extension seems remote,” said Dean Norton, the New York Farm Bureau president. “This only raises the uncertainty level on our farms that are looking to plan ahead for next year as the current harvest season enters its final stages. How does any business set a budget, purchase supplies, or make hiring decisions without having some idea of what governmental policies are in place that have a direct impact on what they do day-in and day-out?”

Norton is in Washington, D.C., urging lawmakers to move on the Farm Bill.

“Without it, our dairies are put in an especially vulnerable position if volatile milk prices swing too low,” he said. “This will continue to leave many of New York’s important fruit and vegetable growers without a reasonable safety net as well. In addition, a number of other cost saving reforms and vital programs will be cast aside if there is no movement to secure a responsible farm policy in the next few months.”

The Farm Bill doesn’t just affect farmers. Consumers could see higher prices and reduced access to local food, Norton said.

Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, said Farm Bureau members throughout the country are “deeply concerned over the political challenges that are making it next to impossible for Congress to reach a compromise on important legislation.”

Farm Bureau wants to see a Farm Bill that provides a safety net for farm products and other risk management tools as farmers plan for next year’s crop, Stallman said in a statement.

“Farm Bureau is encouraging Congress and President Obama to work together to get the budget process in order, get our national economy back on track and move forward on legislation important to agriculture, such as the Farm Bill, immigration and tax reform and waterways funding,” he said.