Sunday, September 30, 2007

Farm Bill Expires

The 2002 version of the farm bill officially expired September 30. There were hopes earlier this year that a new bill would be in place by now, but things are stalled in the Senate. Several versions are floating around, including one from Illinois Senator Dick Durbin:

Chuck Spencer, Illinois Farm Bureau director of national legislation and
policy development, said the House bill has many similar components to the 2002
act, but one thing is different.
"There's a new revenue-based option that farmers can choose, economic assistance if price or production falls below a level based on national triggers," Spencer said.
The optional countercyclical program would be triggered when actual national revenue per acre for each program crop falls below a national revenue target.
Spencer said Congress has a track record of extending farm legislation after it expires so lawmakers can take longer to forge their policies and reconcile Senate and House
versions.
He said Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa,
wants to meet early in October with committee members so the Senate can work on
its version of the legislation.
Meanwhile, Sens. Dick Durbin, D.-Ill., and Sherrod Brown, D-Iowa, have introduced a farm bill proposal – one approved by the Illinois Farm Bureau – that changes farm policy direction.
Spencer said under the program now expiring, which ties supports to low prices, farmers who have crop failures lose when market prices are strong, as they are this
year.
"If you ask a producer in southern Illinois who didn't have a crop two
years ago and won't have much of a crop this year if the current program is
working, they'd say it's not," Hausman said. "We need a bill that will give
farmers help when they need it."
That concept is not easy to sell in the
Senate. Lawmakers from states where crop failures are common, and from southern
states where direct payments for some crops are much higher than they are for
corn and soybeans, don't want to scrap that system in favor of revenue supports.

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