The 2008 farm bill expired in January, though Congress quickly extended it to October. A five-year farm bill passed the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee last week and Senator Joe Donnelly says he’s hoping it will hit the Senate floor soon.
The Senate version strengthens crop insurance, which Indiana Farm Bureau President Don Villwock says is the most important component.
“Not only for individual farmers but for our lenders that actually go out on a limb and lend agriculture producers anywhere now $250,000 or $500,000 or a million dollars plus to put out the crops each spring… those loans would be reduced, to say the least, if we didn’t have crop insurance,” Villwock says.
Donnelly says the Senate bill reduces the national deficit by $23 billion dollars… and that’s accomplished, in part, through cuts to food stamps. He says, as a member of the Senate Ag Committee, he worked to ensure the cuts were strategically made.
“We don’t want to ever have a child hungry, we don’t want to ever have somebody suffer because of this, but we want to make sure every dollar’s wisely spent,” he says.
Donnelly says food stamp spending will likely be one of the biggest points of contention between the Senate and House version of any farm bill, as the proposed House cuts are deeper.