In Washington, a five-year Farm Bill looks farther away than ever. Last week the House passed a Farm Bill minus any money for nutrition programs – “food stamps” – which have been part of the deal for decades. That makes it tough to see how the House can reach an agreement with the Senate, which has already passed a bill with money for food stamps.
“That is the million dollar question right now. You’ve got people even in Congress saying that the bills aren’t similar enough to even go to a conference committee,” said Karen Gefvert, director of governmental affairs for the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. “They’ve been working at this Farm Bill for five years, in order to really get it to be better for everyone, and it is. Congress just can’t seem to get there.”
Failure to pass the Farm Bill will leave agricultural producers in Wisconsin and around the nation with one thing they don’t need – uncertainty. “Without knowing what programs are going to be available for the next year, they don’t know necessarily that crops to plant,” explained Gefvert. “That makes it really hard to run your business, when the future is so uncertain.”
Existing farm programs can be funded through continuing resolutions, but Gefvert says most farmers would prefer to see the reforms that would be part of a new bill.