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Future of House Farm Bill Uncertain; Programs to Expire Without Legislation

01 July 2013

US - Congress can avoid the expiration of 37 farm programs that will result from not passing a new or expended farm policy if lawmakers enact legislation before the 30 September end of the current fiscal year.

The National Chicken Council says that the absence of a new or extended farm policy would leave farm programs without authorization or funding or both for fiscal year 2014. Those programs include disaster assistance programs; conservation programs; specialty crop research; organic research and certification; programs for beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers; rural development; bio-energy; and farmers’ market promotion programs.

Consumers and producers face an additional repercussion if a farm bill is not enacted by the end of the crop year. Without farm legislation, the permanent law of the Agricultural Act of 1949 would take effect and price supports for dairy, wheat, and corn would increase.

Direct payments or farm payments that are based on historical acres and yields, the crop insurance title, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formally known as food stamps, would continue without a new or extended bill. The biggest chunks of the farm bill– mandatory spending–continue on auto pilot.

Without new or extended farm policy, the savings from commodity and crop insurance reforms between $23 billion and $40 billion will be lost. Failure to enact farm legislation would enable direct payments to continue even though the Senate bill (S. 954) eliminates the program.

The farm bill, or lack of one, was brought up this week in the House Republican Caucus briefing. While no decision on other ways to pass farm policy before the 30 September deadline have been determined, Leadership announced that they will be working on a solution to pass the measure. There has been discussion to separate the legislation into two bills–farm and nutrition. However, many in Congress feel that neither bill would garner enough support to pass on its own. Discussions on the future of the farm bill will continue when the House returns from the 4 July recess on Monday, 8 July.

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