Goodbye, Farm Bill

Lost in politics

By
October 8, 2012

When Congress adjourned in August for summer vacation, they left D.C. without finalizing a 2012 Farm Bill. And September saw only a few days of legislative work before Congress adjourned again until after the November elections.

Which means that, when the old Farm Bill expired on September 30, no new bill — despite the efforts of such campaigns as Farm Bill Now — had been passed to replace it. This, as the New York Times editorialized, is "a legislative lapse of shameful proportions."

As the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy noted, an expired farm bill is so unusual that predictions are running amok as to what it might mean.

For those of us not farming or trading agricultural commodities, what impact would this legislative breakdown have on our lives? It’s a complicated question, because some programs would most likely continue unchanged, some programs would disappear, and some programs would revert to “permanent law” of Farm Bills past.

The IATP offered this list of grim predictions: Commodity crops will surge in popularity among farmers, milk prices will skyrocket, food prices overall will rise, and soil and water quality will decline. And Good magazine declared that the death of the Farm Bill bodes no good for organic farming, farmers markets, and, well, the future of farming in general.

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