The 2008 farm bill officially expired as of Sept. 30 and several industry organizations issued a joint statement Oct. 1 indicating their stance on what would happen until the next farm bill is passed and takes effect. These organizations explained which programs and industry segments would be most impacted by the expiration of the bill. The groups issuing the joint statement included American Farm Bureau Federation, American Pulse Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Conservation Districts, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Barley Growers Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Farmers Union, National Milk Producers Federation, National Sunflower Association, United Fresh Produce Association, USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council, U.S. Canola Association and Western Growers Association.
The joint statement said: “The 2008 law governing many of our nation’s farm policies expired on Sunday, Sept. 30, and the 2012 Farm Bill needed to replace it is bottled up in Congress. While the Senate and the House Agriculture Committees were both able to pass their versions of the new farm bill, the full House was unable to do so. While expiration of farm bill program authorities has little or no effect on some important programs, it has terminated a number of important programs and will very adversely affect many farmers and ranchers, as well as ongoing market development and conservation efforts.”
In the statement, the groups allege that dairy producers will face the most significant challenges as a result of the expiration of the farm bill. The Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC) program expired on Sept. 30 and leaves dairy farmers uncertain if adequate assistance will be available to compensate them. There are no other safety nets to help dairy producers offset the high feed costs.
Another aspect that could impact farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses will be the program Foreign Market Development Program (FMD), which pool technical and financial resources to conduct overseas market development.
“Since 31 percent of our gross farm income comes from exports which also make a positive contribution to our nation’s trade balance, trade promotion is an important part of our safety net. Other countries will most certainly take advantage of the fact that the program is rendered inoperable and will do what they can to steal our markets – and everyone knows, the hardest market to get is the one you lost,” the organizations said in their statement.
In addition to the FMD program, the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) will be impacted. Now that the farm bill has expired, no new signups will be allowed for either program. With about 6.5 million acres planned to rotate out of the CRP this year, this could be a challenge for some. In addition, there cannot be sign up for the Wetlands Reserve Program or the Grasslands Reserve Program.
“Both versions of the new Farm Bill contain funding for the disasters facing the livestock industry due to the drought. However, programs are currently only available for lack of forage, as well as death of animals,” the organizations explained.
“Numerous other programs, including energy, agricultural research, rural development and funding for new and beginning farmers could be added to this list of affected programs. The bottom line is that while expiration of the Farm Bill causes little or no pain to some, others face significant challenges.”
This is the not the first time a farm bill has been allowed to expire. “This would be only the second time since 1973 the farm bill has been allowed to expire. In 2007, when the bill expired for 67 days, the rural community did not collapse, nor were farm-state lawmakers and lobbyists particularly concerned,” said Heritage for America.
Click here to read the entire statement from ag industry groups.