Farm Groups Come Together to Weigh In on Expiration of 2008 Farm Bill

Several farm groups - including the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, National Corn Growers Association and National Farmers Union - have joined together in releasing a statement on Sunday's expiration of the 2008 Farm Bill. The groups note that the expiration of farm bill program authorities has little or no effect on some important programs. At the same time - the expiration has terminated a number of important programs and will adversely affect many farmers and ranchers - as well as ongoing market development and conservation efforts.

According to the statement - dairy producers will face considerable challenges due to the expiration of the Milk Income Loss Contract program - which compensated producers when domestic milk prices fall below a specified level. The groups say dairy farmers - without a new farm bill - are left with uncertainty and inadequate assistance. Milk prices are currently high enough that the price support program doesn't kick in - but there is no safety net to help battle the highest feed costs on record.

The joint statement goes on to point out that many farmers, ranchers, and agribusiness or agricultural processors benefit from the Foreign Market Development Program. FMD funding - which helps maintain and increase market share by addressing long-term foreign market import constraints and identifying new markets or new uses for the agricultural commodity or product in the foreign market - will run out at the end of October. According to the farm groups - 31-percent of gross farm income comes from exports - making trade promotion an important part of the safety net. The groups state that other countries will most certainly take advantage of the fact that the program is rendered inoperable and will do what they can to steal our markets.

The joint statement also highlights impacts on the Conservation Reserve and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Programs, disaster funding for the livestock industry, fruit and vegetable producers, energy programs, agricultural research, rural development and new and beginning farmers. The group says the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and crop insurance are not affected by the farm bill's expiration.

When Congress returns for a lame-duck session ahead of final adjournment in December - the groups say they will work to see that consideration of a new farm bill is the first order of business for the House. The groups are urging their members to seek out their House members before the elections to remind them of the consequences of not having a new farm bill in place before Congress adjourns at the end of the year.

In addition to those mentioned earlier - the American Pulse Association, National Association of Conservation Districts, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Barley Growers Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Milk Producers Federation, National Sunflower Association, United Fresh Produce Association, USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council, U.S. Canola Association and Western Growers Association were part of the joint statement.

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