Congress Will Let Farm Bill Expire Without a Replacement

Barring a miracle, the Republican-led Congress will do the unthinkable, leaving farmers hanging and exposed to economic hardship when the Farm Bill expires at the end of the federal fiscal year (Sunday, Sept. 30).

The House Republican leadership is holding farmers hostage by refusing to budge over their demands that the Farm Bill include draconian measures for nutrition programs important to children, seniors, veterans and the disabled. The House passed its Machiavellian Farm Bill by two votes on a party line vote. The Senate passed a more compassionate version of the Farm Bill with an overwhelming bipartisan majority.

“If we brought the Senate version to the House floor today, it would pass,” Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) told the Greenfield (Ma.) Recorder. “But (House) Speaker (Paul) Ryan won’t allow it. This is red meat for some Republicans, a chance to beat up on poor people.”

The first casualty actually won’t be the poor, but rather it will be the Rural Economy in the heart of Trump Country. Programs like the Foreign Market Development initiative, which seeks out overseas buyers for American agriculture, products and services will be left without a budget, according to Politico’s Morning Agriculture report.

Amid Trump’s trade war that is crippling Rural America, commodity prices could go down, and price supports and consumer prices could rise in one of the greediest and inexplicable scenarios in the U.S. economy.

“Farmers are in limbo—not knowing if the risk management programs they need to qualify for operating loans will be there,” stated American Farm Bureau Federation President Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia.

If the Farm Bill is not passed after a few days or weeks at the most, or the current Farm Bill of 2014 is not is not extended by Congress in the interim, then the mother of all farming and budgetary nightmares occurs when the ag budget reverts to a 1949 law. Successful Farming magazine describes that regression as “the bogeyman of Farm Bills” because it “would boost farm subsidy rates to unaffordable rates, reintroduce planting controls for some crops, and eliminate support for soybeans.”

“The sky won’t fall right away. The residual effects of programs that have been in place until now will keep working for a little while” the AFBF’s Duvall said. “But time will run out. And the longer it takes to get the new farm bill passed, the greater the harm to confidence in our farm economy. The proverbial runway is short—weeks at best.”

Keep in mind the lame duck Speaker Ryan and his right wing cabal blew up the deficit with their $1.5 trillion billionaire and corporate tax cut giveway, but now they want to create undue risks with the livelihood of Family Farmers and take food out of the mouths of children, seniors, veterans and physically and mentally challenged Americans.

The expiration of the Farm Bill without at least a temporary extension is an unnecessary betrayal to Family Farmers. For months, three of the so-called big four negotiators — Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-ND) — have said they would pass a new Farm Bill by the deadline. The fourth negotiator, House Agriculture Chairman Michael Conaway (R-TX) has had little to say worth listening to, defining his role early on as that of Ryan’s water boy, (or should we say milk maid) in the legislative process.

“Now the question is whether Congress will finish the bill before the election or during a lame-duck session, or if it will have to start over next year, when Democrats appear likely to be in charge of the House and maybe the Senate,” wrote agriculture policy expert Jerry Hagstrom in National Journal.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply