Thursday, January 03, 2013

In wake of Farm Bill extension, growing uncertainty

The nine-month extension of the Farm Bill "provides farmers and ranchers with a lifeline for this year, but it does little to suppress growing uncertainty in the agricultural community bracing for significant cuts to support programs," reports Christopher Doering of the Gannett Co. Washington Bureau.

"Farmers and ranchers complained the package was riddled with flaws, such as cutting funding for conservation and energy and failing to provide money for much-needed disaster relief programs that have already expired," Doering writes. "A growing concern among rural America is that, as Congress looks to cut spending, agricultural programs could be susceptible to even steeper cuts than those included in the farm bill proposals that failed to pass last year." (Read more)

However, Republican Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska, a former agriculture secretary, told Brownfield Ag News that he is optimistic that the projected savings of about $25 billion in the bill passed by the Senate last year will remain "a fair target" for a new bill. (Read more)

UPDATE, Jan. 4: Mary Clare Jalonick of The Associated Press writes that the new bill will probably have less money amid "the recognition that farm interests have lost some of the political clout they once held. She cites Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow D-Mich., who said of the extension language, "There is absolutely no way to explain this other than agriculture is just not a priority." (Read more)

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