Concern and Frustration Mount Over Lack of Farm Bill Action in Washington
Frustration and concerns are growing in the agricultural community as the Farm Bill languishes in the U.S. House, and no action appears to be imminent.
The U.S. Farm Bill expires at the end of the year. At that time, some programs will revert to previous funding levels and others will sunset. Some programs, like the Milk Income Loss Program - or MILC - a support program for dairy farmers, has already ended. The Senate has passed the bill, but House leadership has not brought it to a floor vote.
New York Congressman Bill Owens believes in the face of "fiscal cliff" negotiations, action on the Farm Bill will occur only if it’s part of a larger revenue package.
New York Farm Bureau Associate Director for National Affairs Kelly Young says numerous factors are affecting action on the Farm Bill.
Young says that has led to extreme concern and uncertainty in ag sectors.
Vermont Farm Bureau President Clark Hinsdale III says farmers are beyond frustrated, and many feel they are caught in a vicious circle of political maneuvering.
It’s not just agricultural programs that are at risk if the Farm Bill does not pass. The legislation is also the major source of funding for the food stamp program - generally referred to as SNAP, and in Vermont, 3-Squares VT. Hunger Free VT 3-Squares VT Advocacy Manager Angela Smith-Bieng says they are concerned about potential cuts.
The Farm Bureau anticipates that if the Farm Bill does not pass by the end of the year, consumer prices for milk could double.