The great Farm Bill saga of 2012/2013 took a major turn for the worse last night as the Senate passed a new Farm Bill extension.
In a rapid about-face, the Senate passed a nine-month Farm Bill extension that continues prominently wasteful policies from the last bill and ignores a slew of conservation and beginning farmer programs.
At 1 AM last night, the Senate approved the Farm Bill extension as a part of the larger fiscal cliff bill by a vote of 89-8, and the House is expected to vote on the bill later today. This bill, which side-steps the work that Senate Agriculture Chair Debbie Stabenow and House Agriculture Chair Frank Lucas have been doing, is in lieu of the House Farm Bill extension that NYFC reported on yesterday.
The gist of this bill is this:
- The direct payment subsidies for commodity production that both the House and Senate agriculture committees had earlier agreed were in need of reform are instead continued exactly as is. For another full year they are locked in at a price tag of $5 billion.
- All of the targeted programs that focus on beginning farmers and sustainable agriculture – everything from the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) to the National Organic Cost-Share Program to the Value-Added Producer Producer Grant Program (VAGP) are completely left out.
- Other crucial reforms were also shut out – disaster aid is completely excluded (despite the fact that 2012 saw the worst drought in 50 years), and the dairy crisis that has been receiving a lot of attention in the past few weeks will see only a temporary solution.
There is still some room for improvement before the House votes, but this is certainly a tragic turn for the worse at the last minute. We will keep you up to date as events progress.