Two local farm officials shared N.Y. Sen. Charles Schumer’s concern that the Farm Bill has not been renewed by its expiration date. Though neither expected that this would result in the doubling of milk prices Schumer said Sunday was possible, both said something needs to be done soon.
The Farm Bill is enacted every five to seven years to provide national farm and food policy. It was passed June 21 in the Senate by a bipartisan vote of 64-35, but remains stalled in the House of Representatives.
Schumer said that with the 2008 Farm Bill expiring Sunday, the nation will start to revert to 1940s-era agriculture policy if new legislation is not passed soon. The old policy requires the government to purchase nonfat dry milk, cheese and butter at prices significantly above current market rates. The National Milk Producers Federation this would be about $6 per gallon.
Delaware County Farm Bureau President Duane Martin said all branches of the federal government are to share in the blame for reaching this point. “I am worried about the uncertainty inaction could bring.”
The state delegation in Washington, D.C., has been effective in the process, he said, but congressional leaders and President Barack Obama need to show more resolve.
Delaware County Cornell Cooperative Extension Educator Mariane Kiraly said so much time was spent crafting the Farm Bill that a lot of farm groups want to see it passed. A reversion to old policy would be such a drastic change that it may force action, she said. This could be a short-term or a one-year extension of current policy.
“I think they will do something before that happens,” she said about the revision to the old policy. It was hard to speculate what that would be. However, the passing of the deadline was “a failure of government to get its act together.”