Two pieces of news provide a flicker of hope amid the doom and gloom.
CAMP HILL, Pa., Jan. 29 -- The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau issued the following news release:
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) is pleased the U.S. House has passed the 2014 Farm Bill that contains many farmer-supported provisions, including a strengthened risk management program that provides additional opportunities for fruit and vegetable growers, but also includes a reduction of $23 billion in federal spending.
Representing a positive shift in federal agriculture policy, PFB notes that the farm bill conference report repeals direct payments, while improving tools for farmers to manage the inherent risks of Mother Nature and commodity prices.
"A major hurdle has been cleared with House passage of the new farm bill proposal. We believe the bipartisan agreement fairly represents the needs of American farmers and consumers and will provide a level of certainty for farmers as they plan for the future," said PFB President Carl T. Shaffer. "We are now asking the Senate to approve the legislation."
The Senate is expected to consider the bill approved by the House (by a 251-166 vote) within a week.
Farm Bureau acknowledges that the overall financial numbers for the farm bill can be difficult to understand, because although it is a five-year bill, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scores the bill by estimating spending over 10 years. The CBO estimates direct spending at $956 billion over 10 years, with $756 billion (or more than 79% of all spending) going to support the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and $200 billion for agriculture and conservation programs.
The Farm Bill also includes a dairy gross margin insurance program that encourages innovation and responsiveness to market signals.
"We believe the new margin insurance program will help Pennsylvania dairy farmers better manage their risk, while also providing more stability to an industry with historically volatile milk prices," concluded Shaffer.
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is the state's largest farm organization with a volunteer membership of more than 58,300 farm and rural families, representing farms of every size and commodity across the state.
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