Expert: Not surprising farm bill expired before new bill passed

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The 2008 Farm Bill expired this week, a move that was not unexpected by many in the industry, an Ohio State University farm policy expert says.

It’s not surprising the 2012 Farm Bill didn’t pass before the current farm bill expired in such a politically divided Congress, which in turn reflects a divided country and a divided farm bill constituency, said Carl Zulauf, also an agricultural economics professor at Ohio State.

And the drought of 2012, which is one of the worst in the last 50 years, may have played a role in the bill’s failure to pass, he said.

“The drought didn’t begin until relatively late into the (farm bill debate) process,” Zulauf said. “Disagreement may exist as to what kind of disaster assistance programs should be added into the bill or passed in separate legislation.”

Zulauf noted that it is not unusual for an existing farm bill to expire before the new farm bill is passed. This situation happened during the debate over the most recent, or 2008, farm bill.

“Failure to pass a new farm bill results in some programs no longer being funded,” he said. “These programs include some programs in the conservation, specialty crop, trade, energy and conservation titles of the bill.

“Spending can resume when these programs are extended and funded, either in a new farm bill or some other legislation.”

In addition, the Milk Income Loss Contract program, which compensates dairy producers when domestic milk prices fall below a certain level, will continue to make payments only through November if such payments are triggered.

“But the crop insurance program is permanently funded and does not expire,” he said. “And the crop support programs are authorized through the current 2012 crop year.”

More than a dozen farm organizations issued a joint statement this week noting that while the expiration of the bill will have little to no effect on some farm programs, other programs could have a major impact on some dairy farmers, some specialty crop growers and those looking to enroll in the Conservation Reserve Program.

The group said in a statement that it is hopeful that Congress will commit to passing a comprehensive, five-year farm bill in the lame duck session.

But many of the provisions of the new bill likely hinge on the outcome of the upcoming presidential elections, said OSU Extension agricultural economist Matt Roberts.

“Most people thought that we wouldn’t see much action on the farm bill until the lame duck session,” he said. “Neither side wanted to offend anyone before the election.

“And both sides believe it is easier to blame the omission on the other side leading up to the election. Everything can change based on the election results.”

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David Greer    
Ham Lake, MN  |  October, 05, 2012 at 09:52 AM

Proposed expenditures in the "Farm Bill" have relatively to do with farms. 70%+ of its budget is for food stamps. In typical fashion we are expected to believe the title of the legislation is related in some way to its contents.

October, 08, 2012 at 01:50 PM

It does not matter if you are Democrat, Republican, etc. what matters is We the People need to start banning together ourselves and stop Government Abuse harming the citizens regarding the use of OUR Tax Dollars. Any Farm Bill should only pertain to Farmer emergency situations to insure proper Food Supply for our Citizens and insure farmers have access to proper insurance same as any other business in our country, nothing more and nothing less. All other items should stand alone and which would eliminate future legislative petty bickering between items such as now taking place with farmer needs vs. food stamps. The Senate Farm Bill should NOT be passed with this section still added: SEC. 12211. DEFINITION OF RURAL AREA FOR PURPOSES OF THE HOUSING ACT OF 1949 would increase the pool of recipients and increased rural community population requirement to 35,000. This population level would be a small City not a true rural community. Changing the Census date to 2020 insures those who have already received fair share of benefits over past years and now self-sufficient to continue receiving such benefits. The purpose of rural programs is to help very small struggling communities grow and become self-sufficient, not to become a Welfare System for self-sufficient communities who have already received past benefits wanting more. This section in the Senate Farm Bill and also in other bills such as House Bill H.R. 273 is Legislative Back Scratching just for the purpose of continuing to feed funding to self sufficient city governments. What our government has been doing since after 1990 is “grandfathering” communities who are no longer rural and allowing them to continue to stick their fingers in the rural money pie.

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