American farmers across the country could face funding delays if a new farm bill, or an extension of the current farm bill, is not passed by the end of September.
For the past several months, lawmakers in Washington have squabbled over the provisions of the farm bill. While most lawmakers acknowledge the importance of agriculture to the American economy, they also have sensed an opportunity to push through various ideological agendas, using the farm bill as a vehicle for partisan politics.
In the Senate, for example, some Midwestern lawmakers pushed hard to end direct payment crop subsidies in favor of expanded crop insurance programs (a move that disproportionately benefits corn growers over certain Southern planters). In the House, fiscal conservatives and Tea Partiers have used the farm bill debate as a chance to significantly defund food stamps and other nutritional and conservation programs.
Given the partisan gridlock, some lawmakers have suggested waiting to act on the farm bill until November, allowing Congress to pass a new bill rather than temporarily extend the old bill.
Across the country, farmers may face funding delays if an extension is not passed. Dairy farmer price supports would disappear, agricultural research funding would dry up, and competitive industries could lose their advantage to international competition. Even though passing a new bill in November would minimize the period without funding, that temporary disruption could have serious consequences across the country.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer