What is in this article?:
- Current legislative impasse reflects deep divisions in farm policy
- All bets are off
• Until September, farmers will essentially be stranded in what is shaping up to be a public policy impasse — and here’s the part that disturbs many of them: There’s even the chance, however remote, that the current farm bill may be the last one.
“Until September,” a largely forgotten movie from the 1980s about a young American woman stranded in Paris after missing her flight, vaguely parallels what is occurring in the U.S. farm community following Congress’s recent decision to extend the current farm bill until September.
Until September, farmers will essentially be stranded in what is shaping up to be a public policy impasse — and here’s the part that disturbs many of them: There’s even the chance, however remote, that the current farm bill may be the last one.
Two recent articles reporting on Congress’s decision to extend the current farm bill illustrate the deep rifts of the shape of farm policy that have contributed to the current impasse.
On Jan. 9, the Southeast Missourian (http://www.semissourian.com/story/1929363.html) reported concerns expressed by local dairy producers that future farm bills no longer will be written with the stability of dairy commodity prices as an underlying goal — something they have taken for granted for more than 70 years.
The current extension — temporarily, at least — saved the Milk Income Loss Program, which compensates producers when prices fall below a certain level.
Likewise, the extension preserved drought protection, though without allocating any funds — a decision that many producers view as an ominous sign of the fiscal constraints that will be reflected in the next farm bill.
On the other hand the extension has left many opponents of the current farm bill — economists, environmentalist, taxpayer advocates, global anti-hunger activists and even a few farmers — demanding new legislation that ends the kinds of price supports that have aided dairy producers and other farmers for decades, according to a Jan. 8 report carried recently by National Public Radio. (http://www.apr.org/post/partial-victory-claimed-even-farm-bill-reform-fails-again)
At Auburn University, Jim Novak, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System economist and professor of agricultural economics, has invested his career studying previous farm bills in an effort to divine the shape of future bills.