2008 Farm Bill Expired September 30th - Now What?Published by on
At midnight on September 30, the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 expired.
Although frustrating, no farm bill does not mean immediate, drastic changes. In fact, over the past 40 years, only the 1973 and 1977 farm bills were enacted before September 30. The 1981, 1985 and 1990 farm bills were enacted by December 31.The most recent farm bills have been enacted much later: April 1996, May 2002 and June 2008.
Most of the major provisions in the 2008 bill continue uninterrupted, such as crop insurance and food stamps. Other programs, like direct payments, were going to be discontinued under the House and Senate Agriculture Committee versions of the new legislation.
The threat of reverting back to "permanent law" that dates back to provisions from 1938 and 1949 is incredibly slim. However, if it does, these provisions would be triggered at different times for different commodities, with the earliest being dairy on December 31. At the very least, an extension of the current farm bill is likely to happen before then. Most of the agricultural community is still calling for a new five year bill, rather than the extension.
USDA has released a document detailing the changes they see stemming from the 2008 expiration. The key terminations and changes in the Commodities title include:
- Direct and counter-cyclical programs for wheat, corn, grain sorghum, barley, oats, upland cotton, rice, peanuts, soybeans, sunflower seed, rapeseed, canola, safflower, flaxseed, mustard seed, crambe and sesame seed.
- Marketing assistance loans and loan deficiency payments for wheat, corn, grain sorghum, barley, oats, upland cotton, rice, peanuts, soybeans, sunflower seed, rapeseed, canola, safflower flaxseed, mustard, crambe, sesame seed, graded wool, nongraded wool, mohair, honey, dry peas, lentils and small chickpeas.
- Nonrecourse loans for extra-long staple cotton, sugar beets and sugar cane.
- Dairy price support purchase program.
- Milk income loss contract program.
- Acreage crop revenue Program.
- The dairy product price support program would end on December 31. On January 1, 2013, permanent law would require a parity-based support price of around $50/cwt.
- Wheat: Unless again suspended as of the 2013 crop, acreage allotments would go into effect. Generally, only farms that had an acreage allotment in 1958 would be eligible for an allotment in 2013. Records of 1958 acreage allotments do not exist. Parity-based loan rates of approximately $16 per bushel would apply as of the 2013 crop.
- Oilseeds and Sugar: Permanent law parity prices support would not be available for oilseeds (including soybeans, sunflower seed, canola, rapeseed, safflower, flaxseed and mustard seed), sugar beets and sugar cane.
- The timing and level of parity price support for wheat, corn, rice, upland cotton, oats, rye, barley, grain sorghum, milk and honey are undetermined and would vary by commodity.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the following statement on the expiration of authority for 2008 Farm Bill Programs:
"Many programs and policies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture were authorized under the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 ("2008 Farm Bill") through September 30, 2012. These include a great number of critical programs impacting millions of Americans, including programs for farm commodity and price support, conservation, research, nutrition, food safety, and agricultural trade. As of today, USDA's authority or funding to deliver many of these programs has expired, leaving USDA with far fewer tools to help strengthen American agriculture and grow a rural economy that supports 1 in 12 American jobs.
Authority and funding for additional programs is set to expire in the coming months. Without action by the House of Representatives on a multi-year Food, Farm and Jobs bill, rural communities are today being asked to shoulder additional burdens and additional uncertainty in a tough time. As we continue to urge Congress to give USDA more tools to grow the rural economy, USDA will work hard to keep producers and farm families informed regarding those programs which are no longer available to them."
Congress is expected to return to Washington on November 15 for a busy lame duck session. Speaker Boehner has said that the House will take up the farm bill during that time. Have any thoughts on this? Tell agbroadcaster Sonja Langseth!