Farm Officials Downplay Crisis

Oklahoma farm officials are downplaying the potential crisis of failing to pass a farm bill this year, citing past delays and expirations.

For the past several months, the rural community has remained focused on the progress of the farm bill. Partisan delay and bickering has so far kept Congress from passing a new five-year bill, or even a temporary extension of the current farm bill. Republicans in the House say that they did not have the votes (and balked at the cost of food stamps funding) while Democrats say that Speaker of the House Boehner is playing politics with the bill and wants to wait until after the election to pass a nearly $1 trillion piece of legislation.

While the general tenor in the agricultural community has been uncertainty and fear, some farm officials in Oklahoma believe that failing to pass a farm bill might not lead to a rural catastrophe.

According to Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Associate Commissioner Blayne Arthur, the farm bill delay has not yet reached a critical moment. Only two farm bills in the past forty years have been passed before the September 30 expirations. More to the point, Arthur claims, the current farm bill protects crops planted this year, but harvested in 2013, so most farm funding will remain in place into next year.

Arthur remains confident that the gravity of letting all U.S. Department of Agriculture programs expire (which will happen if Congress doesn’t pass a farm bill by early 2013) will force the Republicans and Democrats to support a bipartisan agreement.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer