Conference Planned For Long-Delayed Farm Bill - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Conference Planned For Long-Delayed Farm Bill

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By: Claire Powell


Wednesday, House and Senate lawmakers will meet publicly for the first time in attempt to figure out the long-delayed bill. Both chambers have passed their own versions of a five year, $5 billion farm bill, but need to merge them together into one piece of legislation.

The bill includes crop insurance, rural development, agriculture research, subsidies, public nutrition and food aid programs among others. 

The fast-approaching deadline of January 1, 2014 has some very detrimental commodity increases.

"We could see a doubling, tripling of milk prices going forward in January," said Craig Hill, Iowa Farm Bureau.

January 1 is when a 1949 farm law requires that subsidy prices begin to increase, beginning with dairy products. That increase has milk consumers worried.  

"I would not buy it at that price, that's the only way you're going to show people that you won't pay that kind of price," said one consumer.

"That's awful high and I love milk, but I doubt I'm going to spend the money just for that," said another consumer.

Congress has struggled to form a bill to replace the 2008 bill that expired in September of 2012. They extended the legislation earlier this year hoping it would give them enough time to reach a deal. However, now some farm programs have expired a second time and January 1st is two months away.  

"If we don't pass a farm bill by January 1st it will likely have a very disparaging impact for consumers higher milk prices, higher prices for commodities. We need to act before then certainly, sooner hopefully than later," said Hill.

Major focuses are on merging the two bills despite the $35 billion gap in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as the food stamp program. The Senate approved a $4.5 billion reduction over a decade, while the House approved a $39 billion reduction.

Also, a major focus is on crop insurance. Both bills would end direct payments to farmers saving almost $5 billion each year. That savings would increase the number of crop insurance programs that are available.

Iowa farmers have no choice but to finish harvesting this years' crops and move forward with their plans for 2014.

"It's the uncertainty of what to do. We have the crop insurance and price supports and trying to plan our future without knowing any of that is kind of difficult," said Mike Penick, corn and soybean farmer.

"There's a time to quit hoping for the best and get this farm bill done and that time is now. That way farmers can go forward with confidence in the 2014 crop and know what their plans should look like," said Hill.

The House and Senate also need to agree on how long the bills would last.

The Senate proposed for both the farm policy and food stamps to last five years. Meanwhile, the House would allow the farm policy that amount of time, but only allow three years for the nutrition plan.


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