Farm Bill Failure Leaves Dairy Farmers in Lurch

The failure of Congress to pass the 2012 Farm Bill is leaving agricultural businesses across the country in a state of limbo. While many simply do not know how to adequately plan for the future without knowing what subsidies and supports to expect, others are facing significant losses in federal support programs, losses that could cripple their businesses.

Dairy farmers in particular are facing a rough road ahead. While a quirk of the farm bill protects funding for about 75 percent of agricultural programs and subsidies (the bill’s mandate covers crops planted during the bill’s five-year period, meaning that most farm programs are covered until March 2013), dairy farmers are not included in that loophole.

As a result, dairy farmers across the country are about to lose virtually all of their federal safety net programs. This comes as a devastating blow to a historically unstable industry that has already been rocked in the last few years by a massive depression.

Farmers nationwide are now facing an unappealing few months. With no federal subsidies on the horizon, they are in the position of being forced to sell their milk at a loss while simultaneously facing increasing fuel and feed costs.

While some lawmakers are calling on Congress to reconvene to pass emergency agricultural legislation (notably New York representatives from rural districts), this move seems unlikely. Diary farmers will just have to wait until November to determine what subsidies, if any, they can expect for next year.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer