Bill extension leaves farmers uncertain about future

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BATON ROUGE, La. – Farmers are disappointed that Congress couldn’t pass a new farm bill in 2012 and instead extended the 2008 Farm Bill, which technically expired in September. LSU AgCenter economist Mike Salassi says this puts farmers in a difficult position as they make planting decisions for this year.

“We have enough risk in crop production and agriculture, and having so much uncertainty about the farm program just adds to that,” Salassi said.

The extension was passed with the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, legislation aimed at avoiding the so-called “fiscal cliff.” The legislation extends current commodity programs including direct payments, which benefit many of Louisiana’s row crop farmers.

“Last fall up through December when the House and Senate were putting together a new farm bill proposal, none of those included direct payments,” Salassi said. “All of them wanted to get rid of it.”

Direct payments for 2013 will make obtaining needed financing by our producers a much easier process, Salassi said.

Left out of the bill extension were some conservation programs and disaster relief programs, according to LSU AgCenter economist Kurt Guidry.

“Programs such as the Grassland Reserve Program and the Wetlands Reserve Program were not reauthorized,” Guidry said. “Some disaster programs were authorized in the bill, but not with any mandatory funding.”

The extension will expire at the end of September. Salassi says there will be plenty of pressure on Congress to pass a new farm bill in 2013.

“There are national commodity groups that are so disappointed and, in some cases, outraged that Congress couldn’t come up with a new farm bill,” Salassi said. “They’re going to have to come up with a new one this time.”

The farm bill serves as the nation’s main food and nutrition policy. A new bill is set for renewal every five years.

If Congress had not extended the 2008 farm bill, farm policy would have reverted to a 1949 law – the last permanent farm bill, causing the price of many commodities to rise dramatically.

Source: Tobie Blanchard



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