Earlier this week, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry held a hearing in Wichita, Kansas regarding the future of the Farm Bill. The future of the Farm Bill has been a much debated subject for months. While the authoring of the bill is still a ways away, Senators and Representatives are already feeling out farmers and other agricultural professionals, seeking input on how best to tailor the bill to the needs of the farming community.
This years Farm Bill, however, takes place in a wholly different environment than 2008’s Farm Bill. The housing collapse of 2008 and the ensuing economic recession have led many politicians to push for federal austerity measures, seeking to cut budgets and reduce spending.
The most recent debt ceiling agreement has only heightened budgetary fears. Part of the agreement between Congressional Republicans and President Obama was a commitment to cut $2 trillion from the budget over the next ten years.
In addition to the economic disaster, severe weather this last spring and summer have hammered farmers. From heavy rains in the Midwest, to flooding along the Mississippi River, to extreme droughts in the Southwest, American farmers have endured a seemingly unending series of extreme weather.
The choice of location, Wichita, Kansas, is particularly significant. Kansas is currently suffering from a severe drought and has lost millions of dollars due to damages caused to farms across the state.
The clearest desire expressed at the hearing was for continued support for federal crop insurance programs. In light of the string of poor weather, many farmers have only been able to stay afloat because of crop insurance programs.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer