The 2014 Farm Bill became void over the weekend
By Diego Flammini
American producers are displeased at the U.S. Farm Bill Conference Committee’s inability to reach an agreement on a new bill before Sept. 30, the day the Agricultural Act of 2014 expired.
Without this important piece of ag legislation, the availability of farm safety net programs like the Agriculture Risk Coverage and the Price Loss Coverage are in limbo. Rural business development programs and a program for military veteran farmers also are without funding.
But the effects stem further than that, said John Heisdorffer, a soybean grower from Iowa and president of the American Soybean Association.
“We’re disappointed,” he told Farms.com. “We wanted this bill finished by the deadline, but that clearly didn’t happen. We’re sitting here without any conservation programs and no energy title. The Farm Bill affects so many things, and farmers rely on it because it gives us certainty that we know what’s out there.
“But we won’t have any certainty for the next little while.”
The conference committee and Congress still have a short window to pass a new bill.
With voters set to head to the polls for midterm elections on Nov. 6., the committee will have about six weeks before the government shuts down for Christmas. But if negotiations don’t progress, they’ll have no choice but to extend the 2014 Farm Bill for another year.
“If we get close to Dec. 1, I think they’ll have to officially extend it,” Heisdorffer said. “At this point, they just have to keep negotiating and try to come up with something. I’m confident (the committee) will get a deal hammered out, it’s just going to take a little more time.”
A U.S. wheat organization is also upset with the expiration of the farm bill.
Producers have planted about 28 percent of the national winter wheat crop, the USDA’s Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin says. But they are facing challenges.
“Farmers are facing historically low prices and a struggling rural economy. The farm bill provides growers access to crucial programs that support their operations,” Chandler Goule, CEO of the National Association of Wheat Growers, said in a statement Friday.
“Winter wheat farmers across the country have already begun seeding next year’s crop, and they are having to do so without knowing whether a safety net will be in place or what sort of conservation programs that may be available.’’