Farm Bill Issues
An update last week from Rep. Adrian Smith (R., Neb.) indicated that, “When Congress returns to Washington after the election, we have a long list of items to address before the end of the year. One of the biggest priorities, especially for Nebraska producers, will be passing a responsible Farm Bill to prevent a lapse in policy. Congress also must act to prevent the largest tax hike in American history before the current rates expire on January 1, 2013.
“The Farm Bill expired on September 30, and Congress has not yet passed a new bill or an extension. It is important to note while the bill expired, there has not been an immediate lapse in most farm programs. The Continuing Resolution passed by Congress in September funds most Farm Bill provisions through the end of March 2013, including the crop insurance program. While some programs do need to be reauthorized, commodity programs are not immediately impacted because the 2008 Farm Bill covers these programs through the 2012 crop year.
“The urgency to pass a Farm Bill does not mean Congress should rush through an irresponsible bill. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) accounts for 80 percent of the cost of the Farm Bill, and would result in nearly $1 trillion in spending over the next ten years. At a time when Americans are demanding reforms to reduce spending, it is reasonable to make modest changes to the nutrition title to cut costs without affecting families in need. The House should pass amendments to reduce spending on the nutrition title before sending a bill to a conference committee where a compromise with the Senate can take place.”