The Farm Bill Extension And You – What Did It Prevent, How Long Does It Last And What Needs To Be Done?
While we focused on the "Fiscal Cliff" Deal as New Year's Day passed - how much taxes would be raised on taxpayers and who in the Louisiana Delegation voted "Yes" or "No" - there was a smaller piece of legislation that passed which focused in on an industry vital to Louisiana - farming.
The extension of the 2008 Farm Bill was contained within the "Fiscal Cliff" legislation passed by Congress. Republican Rep. Rodney Alexander broke rank with his fellow GOP congressmen in the U.S. House of Representatives by voting for the "Fiscal Cliff" Deal, in part, because of the current Farm Bill getting extended another 9 months.
Louisiana State Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain says the extension keeps in place many subsidies for Southern row crop farmers. "The Market Access Program and the Farmer's Market Programs will be authorized at the existing levels of $200 million and $34.5 million, respectively," says Strain.
Strain says the Farm Bill extension also blocks milk and bread prices from drastically increasing:
(If) they did not do this milk would, under the law, go to $8.00 a gallon next month. That is not going to happen
But, Strain says "now we have to start all over again" because the federal government will have to pass a new Farm Bill when the extension expires after September. He plans to go to Washington next month to lobby federal lawmakers about the needs of Louisiana producers. "We have to start through the House and the Senate Ag Committees and recraft what is going to be the 2013 Farm Bill," says Strain.
The commissioner says a new Farm Bill needs to restore research funding and include affordable crop insurance. And Strain says unfortunately the extended Farm Bill suspends disaster assistance indefinitely.