WASHINGTON—The incoming Congress has its work cut out for it, and the nation’s farmers hope a new federal farm bill will be a priority.
Extending the 2008 Farm Bill at the close of 2012 was “little more than a stop-gap measure,” said Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “We are glad that a measure is in place for most of this year, but we are disappointed that Congress was unable or unwilling to roll a comprehensive five-year farm bill proposal into the ‘fiscal cliff’ package.
“Now it will be up to the new 113th Congress to put a new farm bill in place, and we will continue to insist on the kind of reforms that were included in the proposals approved by the Senate and the House Agriculture Committee during the 112th Congress.”
Historically, the farm bill is renewed every five years. Most funds from the bill are allocated to nutrition and food assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which replaced food stamps. The bill does, however, include farm commodity program support. The 2008 Farm Bill contains 15 titles covering support for commodity crops, horticulture and livestock, conservation, nutrition, trade and food aid, agricultural research, farm credit, rural development, energy, forestry and other related programs.
In 2010 the Congressional Budget Office estimated annual expenditures of $63 billion for SNAP and other nutrition programs and only $6.4 billion for commodity programs over the five-year life of the now-extended bill. Only 1 percent of the bill covers disaster assistance; 8 percent covers crop insurance; and less than 4 percent covers rural development, research, forestry, energy, horticulture/organic and livestock programs.
All of those programs are administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Contact Tracy Taylor Grondine, 202-406-3642, or Mace Thornton, 202-406-3641, AFBF public relations.