What the farm bill expiration means

September 27, 2012 at 10:38 am 2 comments

NPR tries to answer the question, “So what happens if the farm bill expires?” Their answer: “Not much, right away.”

Once the 2008 farm bill expires, it would revert back to the permanent provisions set in the Agriculture Adjustment Act of 1938 and the Agriculture Act of 1949. The farm bills that have been passed since are five-year measures that suspend these former acts. But without a new five-year bill, what would a reversion to the 1940s look like? These laws were passed in a very different era, and as the Omaha World-Herald puts it, “Imagine farmers dumping tons of corn and wheat on the federal government at wildly inflated prices.” Some commodities farmers would benefit significantly because of the way price supports were set up back then; but others, whose crops were added on in later bills, would get nothing.

However, as NPR reports, these changes wouldn’t take effect until January 1. The 2008 farm bill covers crops through 2012. Once the new year begins, these administrative and policy questions will kick in, and could cause much chaos.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) will continue through March, as it was included in the six-month spending bill passed by Congress.

Will Congress act in the nick of time? Probably, and it will be during the lame duck session– and that’s what certain legislators were hoping for all along. This is certainly not the first time the farm bill has lapsed. In 2007, the farm bill also lapsed and Congress didn’t pass the first extension until December 26th.

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Entry filed under: Agriculture Policy, Economy, Farm Policy. Tags: , .

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