FARMERS FACE UNCERTAIN FUTURE FOLLOWING TABLED FARM BILL
The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to address the 2012 farm bill during the lame duck session in November, but farmers’ ability to plan for the future remains at a stalemate until it reconvenes.
|National Legislative Programs Director Mitt Walker said until the House reconvenes in November, farmers face an uncertain future.|
Alabama farmers anticipate significant cuts to agricultural support programs; however, much of the House’s delay in passing its version of the farm bill rests on disagreements with the Senate regarding cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Regardless of the reasons for the lingering uncertainty, one thing remains true – farmers are feeling the pressure.
“We were disappointed the House decided to wait until after the Nov. 6 election to address the farm bill,” said Mitt Walker, National Legislative Programs director of the Alabama Farmers Federation. “While it’s true that many of the programs in the current law will continue to cover this year’s crop past the Sept. 30 farm bill expiration date, farmers still face an uncertain future beginning with the new planting seasons.”
American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Public Policy Deputy Dale Moore echoed Walker’s remarks, noting that farmers and financial planners alike are in a difficult situation.
“Right now, the main issue is the uncertainty," said Moore. "The biggest thing [for farmers] is not knowing what the new farm program is when they are sitting down planning for next year. They don't know what they are going to be dealing with."
Although funding for many farm programs under the now-expired farm bill temporarily remains, Walker points out the extended coverage doesn’t alleviate the ambiguity for farmers and bankers who need to make important planting decisions soon. While row crop farmers comprise a bulk of the state’s rural sector, Walker says they aren’t the only ones encountering a troubling future.
“The livestock sector also continues to go without programs that expired a year ago because the last farm bill allowed them to expire a year early,” he added. “Planting decisions, securing operational loans, renting land and booking next year’s crop all become more difficult with each day that passes without a new farm bill. Farmers need the certainty of a five-year bill moving forward, and they deserve to see swift action on the bill when Congress returns in November.”
The stalled passage of a new farm bill isn’t due to a lack of insistence by farmers and other agricultural network supporters. In August, 39 of the nation’s leading agricultural organizations formed the Farm Bill Now Coalition, urging Congress to pass the 2012 farm bill before the current bill expired.
Prior to the August recess, the House passed a one-year extension, but the Senate chose not to take up the bill. The Federation has not supported any extension plans and continues to push for a five-year bill.
The Alabama Farmers Federation, a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, is the state’s largest farm organization with more than 400,000 members.