Farm Bill Expires, Farmers Weigh in on Long-Term Effects
KREX News Room
MESA COUNTY, Colo.- If it's not renewed by Congress, the farm bill will expire, eventually shutting off drought, livestock and dairy supports and putting 2013 crop subsidies in limbo for farmers around the state and country; that could affect food prices at the market.
The bill is renewed every 5 to 7 years, but it stalled in the most recent House session.
John Justman, a Fruita farmer and a Mesa County commissioner candidate for District 1, said, "The farm bill has been around since the 30s, probably since FDR, to implement a cheap food policy, I believe, and keep farmers out on the farm and providing an abundant food supply, and I think it's been very successful at that."
In June, the Senate passed the bill with bipartisan support; however, the House adjourned without bringing it up for a vote, meaning reauthorization of the farm bill will have to wait.
Bruce Talbott, the orchard manager of Talbott's Mountain Gold, said, "It would be nice to have it concluded because there are a lot of people that put a lot of effort into it."
"Lack of atmosphere in the mountains, their feed for their livestock, their forage, is really down considerably. Hay prices are really high and there may be some drought assistance for those folks. If the bill expires, is that nonexistent? I don't have an answer for that," Justman said.
Farmers nationwide are affected by the farm bill in different ways.
"In the fruit industry, the big benefits we get out of the farm bill is money for the conservation program, which helps fund conservation easements and money for equip. There is a cost share with crop insurance, and that may be in fact the most important of all of them, because it helps make crop insurance more affordable," said Talbott.
According to Sen. Michael Bennet's office, farm bill expiration means a few things.
First, it means an end to livestock assistance for farmers and ranchers facing the worst drought in decades.
Next, it means uncertainty about what the policy for crop insurance and other programs will look like, meaning farmers and ranchers will have a harder time finding loans and financing because they can't say for sure what is there for them.
It also means conservation programs will not accept any new enrollments. Conservation programs are some of the most effective tools for managing drought conditions.
Another local producer says that the farm bill expiration really doesn't affect her business at all.
Katheryn Bedell, owner and operator of Roan Creek Ranch, said,"You know, if they'd put a few changes in it to help the little guy, I think they'd get a lot more support for it. Right now all the support from it is from corporate farmers."
Although the farm bill affects some more than others, uncertainty is to be expected as the bill continues to sit on the sidelines.
Sen. Bennet is urging the House to schedule a vote on the farm bill as soon as members returns to Washington in five weeks.
Analysts say programs including food stamps, which makes up about 75 percent of the farm bill's spending, will be funded through March 2013 due to a deal reached in June.