House Farm Bill Defeat Brings Many Issues for Farmers, Ranchers

The U.S. House of Representatives' defeat of a new, five-year farm bill has completely surprised the ag industry. While 2008 law still exists through September 30th - farmers, ranchers and dairy producers say the failure to pass a new farm bill last year left them unable to plan as the planting season approached this year.

American Soybean Association President Danny Murphy says the biggest thing it creates is uncertainty - which is the one thing farmers and ranchers can't have. Murphy says the lack of a farm bill makes it hard for farmers and ranchers to get loans or buy equipment because they don't know what price support programs they will be operating under - something banks don't like. Even though most support and subsidy programs for crops run through the end of the year - Murphy says farmers want something done - that Congress can't keep kicking this can down the road.

As for livestock producers - they have almost another year to go without a disaster insurance program that can help after droughts and other weather-related disasters occur - causing them to face an uncertain future. National Cattlemen's Beef Association Executive Director of Legislative Affairs Cristina Llorens says this is a major defeat for cattle producers because they were counting on Congress doing something to help drought-suffering producers. Llorens says 70-percent of cattle producers were affected by the drought - and cattle herds are the smallest since World War II - so it will take them years to rebuild.

National Milk Producers Federation Spokesman Chris Galen says the first program to go - if current law isn't extended again - will be the Milk Income Loss Contract Program - which compensates dairy producers when domestic milk prices fall below a certain level. Galen says without another extension - farm programs will revert to 1949 law requiring Washington to purchase milk at inflated prices - meaning higher dairy product prices - which would be about twice the current market prices in order to maintain a stable market. Galen says that would be bad for dairy producers and customers.

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