Farm Bill Update: Congress Passes One-Month Extension

The frustration of farmers across the nation is rising as the status of the U.S. Farm Bill continues. Last week, President Bush signed to extend the 2002 Farm Bill until April 18. At that point if Congress does not pass the bill, Bush proposes to extend the bill for another year. The major concern that Bush has is trying to fit the proposed Farm Bill into the budget.

“Farmers and ranchers deserve to know the structure of policies that affect their day-to-day business activities, and right now they face uncertainty,” Bush said in a statement on March 13.

He has said he will not sign a Farm Bill that’s over the baseline. So, what’s the hold up? The House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees cannot reach an agreement on how to fund the $10 million over the $280 billion baseline.

As Congress recesses for the next two weeks, there has been talk of scrapping the bill and starting from scratch – writing a bill that would include no new spending above the baseline. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done for the Farm Bill to pass, but the budget issue still remains. There must be some agreement regarding the funding of the U.S. Farm Bill.

With this delay, farmers are facing a new problem. This extension leaves farmers in a precarious position as they try to plan for the coming planting season. Without a Farm Bill in place, farmers are at a loss. They have nothing on which to base their decisions, meaning farmers and other agricultural producers are planting crops under no federal guidance.

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