With 2012 fast approaching, farmers across the country are worried about the prospects of the 2012 Farm Bill. With the provisions from 2008’s bill rapidly coming to a close, farmers and lawmakers are scrambling to pass the next bill and avoid the shutdown of crucial farm programs.
Renewed every several years, the farm bill serves as a broad guide to federal agricultural policies. The farm bill consists of billions of dollars of federal spending and provides the framework for nearly every federal farm programs in existence.
Typically a non-controversial bill, the recent budget hysteria in Congress has led many lawmakers to demand major spending cuts in order to limit the growth of the federal budget deficit. This, combined with the gradual decline of the power of the farm lobby, has pushed some legislators to consider major agricultural spending cuts.
The various components of the farm bill are numerous. The largest portion, however, are a series of nutritional programs, such as Food Stamps, which take up about 2/3 of the farm bill’s expenditures. The remaining funding consists of a cluster of federal programs dealing with conservation, wildlife protection, crop insurance, research, and farm subsidies.
These programs, many farmers worry, are most at risk in 2012. While nutritional programs are slated for billions of dollars worth of budget cuts, their greater size allows them to absorb more funding reductions without endangering their basic operational goals. Many farmers worry that the defunding of conservation and subsidy programs, for example, could drastically reduce production levels and hinder American economic growth.
The 2012 Farm Bill is set to begin debate once Congress returns from its winter recess.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer