Expiration date looms as farm bill discussions continue
With the 2014 farm bill set to expire on Sept. 30, the Farm Bill Conference Committee negotiations appear snagged on work requirements for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients included in the House version of the bill.
“We urge Congress to push the bill to the finish line,” Georgia Farm Bureau President Gerald Long said. “Georgia’s farmers, like those in other parts of the country, have struggled with depressed commodity prices, increasing costs for farm inputs and trade disruptions. All of that makes passage of the farm bill critical in farm country. Our farmers need the regulatory certainty that an uninterrupted farm bill safety net can provide.”
According to the USDA, net farm income in 2018 would be $65.7 billion—the third-lowest level over the past decade. Farm debt is forecast for a record high of $407 billion in 2018.
According to published reports, House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota) said the discussions center on how waivers to the work requirements would be administered. Both Peterson and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) have indicated publicly that passage of the new farm bill is unlikely before the current one expires. Even if the Conference Committee approves the bill before Sept. 30 votes in the House and Senate are unlikely to take place before then.
If the 2014 farm bill is allowed to expire without a replacement, many programs under the 2014 farm bill will continue for a period of months, however, without the passage of a new farm bill, farmers needing operating loans for the 2019 crop year could be left in limbo without knowing what risk management tools are available under the next farm bill.