The waiting games continues to see what Congress is going to do about a new federal farm bill. The U-S Senate passed it's version a month ago...but the U-S House has yet to debate it's version of the farm bill. With a worsening drought...and time running out on the existing farm bill...the question of what happens next becomes more important with each passing day.
It is the daily topic of conversation around here: how much longer will the dry conditions last and how much worse will it get? And as it turns out, the exact same conversation is happening in Washington. Senator John Thune tells KSFY News, there may some fast-track legislation this week to deal with drought damage and the economic devastation that comes with it.
"The immediate concern, the drought, is something that the house is dealing with. I'm told they're gonna move legislation probably tomorrow that would provide emergency drought assistance to livestock producers across the country." This drought is turning the ag world on it's ear with rising market prices for corn and soybeans and livestock producers facing rising costs to keep their herds fed, cool and alive...and in some cases selling off parts of their herd to make ends meet. Thune tells us, if the House passes emergency drought aid soon, he expects it would sail through the Senate quickly. "Get it to the Senate and we can pick it up and pass it, we can address at least the near term issue and then try and get the farm bill moving here in the not too distant future."
The specter of the farm bill....the massive piece of legislation that sets nationwide farm policy...is still looming. The existing farm bill is only in effect for 60 more days....then it expires. With no new farm bill in place, what happens if we get to the end of September...and there's no farm bill? "If we get to September 30th and we haven't passed the new farm bill, you would have to do an extension of the existing bill or you revert to what they call permanent farm law which is like the 1949 Farm Bill and obviously things have changed a lot since 1949 so that's not an acceptable option."
Thune says if the existing farm bill has to be extended, it would not put into place new cost effectiveness measures contained in the senate's version of a new farm bill. Complicating matters, Congress begins its August recess next Monday. That recess ends on September 7th.
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