As Congress scrambles to settle on a new farm bill, time is running out. The latest extension expires on Monday, September 30, 2013.
“We will not have a farm bill here in a few days,” said Iowa Farm Bureau President Craig Hill.
Sharp divisions over proposed cuts in the food stamp program put any progress in jeopardy.
“Unless we get a new farm bill done, we’re going to experience very adverse affects from this lack of action,” Hill continued.
That’s why radio station KWPC created a forum on Wednesday at the Muscatine Agriculture Learning Center. Farm leaders came to talk food and farm policy, and how it all relates to the farm bill.
Delays will have a staggered impact on programs. After January 1, milk prices will skyrocket without a deal, projected to reach $8 per gallon.
“You start reducing your programs trying to stretch your funding,” said Wendell Shauman, past chairman of the U.S. Grains Council. “Now, you become inefficient in a time when we really ought to be pushing exports.”
It’s already been a challenging year for area farmers. A chilly, damp spring delayed planting. Excessively dry conditions followed during the growing season. Now, there’s a battle over a bill.
“They like to create crisis in Washington, D.C.,” said Keota, Iowa, farmer Lindsay Greiner, who also serves as Iowa food ambassador. “I think they will, at the last minute, figure a deal out.”
Extreme weather and congressional inactivity seem to be throwing farmers a one-two punch. And with the calendar moving closer to harvest season, a decision on the farm bill is even more crucial and timely.
But it looks like time will run out before most combines hit the fields.
“We’ll start to see research and development programs fail, conservation programs fail and trade relationships fail,” Hill said.
Farmers are calling on Washington to stop the stalemate before it’s really too late.