I’ll be the first to admit that the U.S. political system with its two houses, governors and senators and congressmen sets my head spinning. I also find it fascinating, as wrangling rules and regulations for so many people just seems like an overly daunting task. It would appear that our friends to the south also get tripped up now and again, as the U.S. Farm Bill expired on Sunday night (September 30) without a replacement. The next Farm Bill is at best months away — what does this mean for farmers?
I spoke with Chris Clayton, ag policy editor for DTN, on the topic. As a good neighbour (note the u, friends in America), I wanted to make sure farmers in the States were OK. Not having a Farm Bill sounded very serious. It is, Clayton says, though perhaps it’s not as dire as you might think, as the two major programs, food stamps and crop insurance, are not affected. Clayton does a great job of spelling out exactly what programs will be immediately impacted by the absence of a Farm Bill. At first glance, it appears dairy farmers, especially the smaller scale producer, beginning farmers and conservation programs will be the first to feel the pinch.
What’s interesting to me is that allowing the Farm Bill to expire was a calculated and not very subtle move by the house Republicans to rob the Obama campaign of bragging rights. This has already started to backfire in some races, Clayton says, and ultimately farmers are caught in the political cross-fire.
I spoke with Jacqui Fatka, farm policy editor for Farm Futures, about when she thought a new Farm Bill may be passed. She also talks about the dreaded “parity pricing” — a bizarre hold-over from the late ’40s used as an incentive for the current government to pass a Farm Bill in a timely manner — that would cause the price of milk to skyrocket to four times the current price. Trust me, while the details of passing a bill are dry and a bit confusing, it’s well worth taking a few minutes to learn more on the topic. I’ll let you decide whether or not it makes you feel any better about the Growing Forward 2 program.
If you cannot see the embedded video below click here.