2013 Was A Hard Year For The Farm Bill

Indiana experts reflect on the stalemate in Congress over the Farm Bill, and look to the bill's future next year.

farm

Photo: flickr (Artur Staszewski)

Experts are hopeful for an updated Farm Bill in 2014.

Congress is making progress on a new Farm Bill, as Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa,  announced plans last week to roll out a framework in January for the long-awaited bill.

Indiana Farm Bureau National Policy Advisor Kyle Cline says he is relieved by signs of progress.

“This has certainly been one of the more difficult processes, I think, in recent memory,” Cline says.

The most controversial change to the proposal is an $8 billion cut to Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program or SNAP benefits over the next ten years.

The other big-ticket issue revolves around the subsidies to farmers. The new proposal will make it so farmers only receive insurance payments if their crops are damaged. Currently they receive  payments regardless of their crop yields.

IU Political Science Professor Les Lenkowsky says the revisions for both issues will not just affect farmers and low-income families, but everyone in the country.

“All of us buy food,” Lenkowsky says. “The various kinds of subsidy programs could affect the prices of some of the food we buy or the food we export.”

Cline says farmers are anxious for a ruling, and the agency is optimistic about the bill’s trajectory.

“Having a Farm Bill is crucial right now and we’re positive, we’re feeling good about where we are and where we need to be and hopefully we’ll have that finished in January,” Cline said.

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