Farmers Debate Farm Bill Extension

With Congress currently at an impasse regarding the 2012 Farm Bill, farmers across the country are discussing the impact of a farm bill extension, with the farm community divided as to the urgency of passing a new bill.

With the Senate’s farm bill passed and the House’s bill stalled on the floor, some farmers are wondering whether it is possible to pass a new farm bill by the September 30 deadline. At the end of September, the current farm bill expires. If a new bill is not passed or the current bill extended, 1940s era permanent farm legislation automatically kicks in, a prospect that could severely limit farm production and cost the government billions in farm subsidies.

Some farmers are unfazed by the delay. According to George W. Bush’s former Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer, farm bill delays are par for the course for Congress. “I don’t think they’ve ever done a farm bill in Congress at the appropriate time,” Schafer said. “I suspect that this year, in an election year especially, we won’t see a farm bill.” Other farmers have questioned the significance of a temporary farm bill extension, stating that the repeated claims that farmers need federal guidance are overblown.

Other farmers are less optimistic and want to know what programs and support they can expect before they commit to large-scale production. In addition, the expiration of several important drought provisions in the current farm bill will not carry over in the event of an extension, leading some farm officials to note that an extension could leave many farmers in the Southwest and the Midwest, farmers who are currently facing a severe drought, in a vulnerable position.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer