Editorial: Congress, sow some farm legislation nowThe 2008 Farm Bill expires Sept. 30. The deadline comes just as the local harvest kicks into full gear and that timing should propel the U.S. House to act promptly.
The 2008 Farm Bill expires Sept. 30. The deadline comes just as the local harvest kicks into full gear and that timing should propel the U.S. House to act promptly.
There are three options:
One, let the bill expire. That, however, seems foolish.
Two, pass a new farm bill now. The Senate passed its version this summer. The House Agriculture Committee’s surprise advancement Thursday of a farm bill indicates there is hope. If a full House vote occurs, senators and representatives would have two weeks to hash out differences.
Three, extend the current bill.
There’s nothing magic about a five-year bill. Since the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933, Congress has passed numerous farm bills ranging up to seven years. One more year of the current bill is much better than nothing.
What’s the rush?
Farm country, especially the Midwest, needs a farm bill to plan for 2013.
You see, even as the harvest gets under way, farmers start planning what to plant for next year based on yields, field conditions and, yes, what programs and incentives the farm bill provides. That also affects what they buy now.
In case you’re a non-farmer, “farm country” includes you. That means your neighbor, your business/employer and your local schools. In short, our communities need the bill.
The Farm Bill, despite the name, is actually a broad omnibus bill worth billions and billions of dollars. The current farm bill, called the Food, Conservation and Energy Act, is structured so that roughly 20 percent goes to programs directly related to farming. There are 14 other components and No. 4 covers nutrition, which gets nearly 68 percent of the funds.
Farming is everyone’s bread and butter, as the saying goes. The farm bill helps put that bread and butter on the table … in low-income homes, at senior center dining programs, in public schools, in day care centers and more. Some say that the potential instability of no farm bill can affect food prices at local grocery stores.
Producers benefit from the certainties a bill provides. People with no direct connection to farming also benefit. Congress should act on the farm bill now.