While the majority of tax-paying Americans avoided going over the proverbial ‘fiscal cliff’ as 2013 came to life, most farmers are left wondering what the nine-month extension to the 2008 farm bill will really bring for them in the upcoming cropping year.

The extension was reached primarily via negotiations between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel and Vice-President Joe Biden.

For row crop growers in the Southeast, the extension means at least a temporary business as usual approach to planning 2013 crops.

For cotton and peanut growers, in particular, it is a temporary reprieve, which may help these traditional Southeastern crops compete better for acreage with grain crops.

The full Senate and the House Agriculture Committee earlier this year agreed to permanently eliminate direct payment subsidies for commodity production, regardless of price and income conditions, yet the deal would lock in these subsidies for another full year at a $5 billion price tag.

Soybean, corn and wheat growers nationwide seem to be the biggest winners with the temporary farm bill fix.

(The American Soybean Association sees some good in the extension, but is asking Congress to commit to a new farm bill. For those comments, click here. Meanwhile, the National Corn Growers Association says Congress’ farm bill failure hampers America. For those comments, click here).

Rural economies hoping to rebound from a dismal post-recession recovery, on the other hand, took a direct hit from the 2008 farm bill extension.

For the next nine months, at least, getting started as a young farmer will continue to be financially impractical at best.

All of the targeted programs, such as the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) to the National Organic Cost-Share Program to the Value-Added Producer Grant Program (VAGP), were completely left out of the last minute agreement.