Ag Official Doubtful of New Farm Bill

Prospects for a new farm bill appear dim this year, particularly in light of the upcoming presidential election, a former agricultural official says.

For the past several months, farmers across the country have worried about the status of the farm bill. The 2008 bill is set to expire at the end of September, and with it, dozens of federal programs that guide and fund the nation’s farm policies. While the 2008 bill can be renewed, many farmers would prefer a new farm bill that could help them better predict the twists and turns in the upcoming year.

While the House and Senate are currently holding hearings to address the farm bill, some farmers are worried that a new bill’s passage is unlikely. Speaking to a local Illinois chamber of commerce, Former Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Conner said that budget concerns and the upcoming election make it extremely unlikely that a new bill will pass by the end of the year.

Discord dominates the political situation in Washington. According to Conner, partisan bickering has gotten so bad that politicians can agree to little more than toothless statements that they are “committed to working together.” In addition, given the enormity of the budget battle looming, Conner worries that even if politicians can agree to general policies, it is unlikely that they will agree on how best to fund them.

Even farm advocacy groups have difficulty agreeing, Conner said. While varying lobbying groups can agree on general principles, “their methods to get there have never been more different than they are today.”

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer