Nation Facing Agricultural Abyss

With December rapidly winding down, farmers across the country are nervously looking at the calendar and waiting for Congress to take action on the farm bill. If a new bill is not passed, farmers could face the “agricultural abyss,” the expiration of vital farm programs and major subsidies.

For most of the year, Congress has been impossibly stalled over the farm bill. While the Senate passed a bill in May, and the House Agriculture Committee passed a bill in July, House leadership has refused to take action on either version. While Speaker Boehner and his representatives claimed they were waiting until after the election, the House appears unwilling to broach the farm bill during the lame duck session.

Without a new bill, farmers may face an uncertain future. While most farm programs are funded until 2013, several could face immediate shutdowns. Dairy price controls, for example, are set to expire in December, meaning that milk prices could shoot up by as much as 67 percent in January. In addition, several conservation programs and export loan programs have been frozen due to the farm bill delays.

While many pundits believe that a new farm bill will be passed soon (with many thinking that it will be passed as part of a grand bargain over the fiscal cliff), farmers have little reason to have faith in Congress these days.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer