Aug. 03--MT. VERNON -- The 2008 Farm Bill expires Sept. 30 with the end of the federal fiscal year, and local officials say the House of Representatives needs to commit to a five-year bill.
Christopher Bunting, manager of the Jefferson County Farm Bureau, said farmers need the safety net of a five-year bill, especially when it comes to crop insurance.
A one-year extension of the 2008 Farm Bill was discussed, but it was pulled, Bunting said, adding that the House only has two opportunities to vote on the bill before it expires.
"There is no scheduled debate at this time," he said.
Bunting said while the Farm Bill is obviously important to those whose livelihoods depend on agriculture, the majority of the legislation is focused on nutrition.
"Approximately 86 percent of the Farm Bill is nutritional programs such as (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)," he said. "Most of it goes toward nutrition. About 86 percent has nothing to do with agriculture."
The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 is a bundle of legislation that sets national policy for "agriculture, nutrition, conservation and forestry," according to the United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry website.
"The bill ends direct payments, streamlines and consolidates programs, and reduces the deficit by $23 billion," information states. "It also strengthens top priorities that help farmers, ranchers, and small business owners continue to grow our economy."
President of the Jefferson County Farm Bureau Rick Corners said the drought conditions across the country provide an extra layer of urgency to the issue.
"We can't afford to be without a Farm Bill," he said. "We're in limbo. We don't know what's going to be going on, especially with crop insurance. With the drought, crop insurance is going to be very important to us. I know some of the delay I have heard about was for drought disaster assistance for livestock farmers. I'm hoping they're working on it, and when they've got that completed they'll get back to work on the Farm Bill."
Jefferson County Board Member Jim Laird said he doesn't know all the details of the Farm Bill, but he does know one thing.
"It needs to be passed," he said. "They need to do their job and get it passed one way or another."
(c)2012 the Mt. Vernon Register-News (Mount Vernon, Ill.)
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