The current farm bill will expire on September 30 and while the press tends to focus on a very small part of the bill that is a safety net for agricultural producers, we talked with an economist who says that part of the bill is what insures the food security of the United States.
“One in seven Americans are on some form of food assistance. This is the bill that funds that. This is also the bill that provides incentives to producers and landowners to take care of their land through conservation programs., as well as, why it’s called the Farm Bill, it’s because it has a commodity program provisions in it, which are the provisions that provide the safety net that keep commodity producers around this country in business when things go badly.”
Joe Outlaw is an agricultural economist and co-director of The Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M, and says that without a safety net to keep farmers in business, the U.S. would experience food shortages.
“America feeds itself, plus a number of other people overseas, and so the point is to do that, you have to have some stability and some security for producers because there’s a lot of investment. You drive around in this country, the people that are putting food on the table have a lot of money invested. Do they make a lot of money sometimes, sure, sometimes they make a lot of money, but there’s other times that nobody talks about very much, or in drought situations like we have in the Midwest, where they don’t make any money, and so the question is what are we going to have there to keep them in business, and that’s what this Farm bill is about.”
Outlaw says if history is any indicator, the current Farm Bill will be extended.
“What’s going to happen is, the house and senate are going to conference this, not in an official process, but they’re going to meet, they’re going to work out their differences, and more than likely this bill’s going to get dropped into some must pass after the election, so what does that mean? That means that they’re going to have to pass an extension of certain elements for a very short period of time, and they’ve done that. If you paid any attention to the last Farm Bill, they had to do five extensions on it.”
I’m Kailey Carey, looking at Brazos Valley Agriculture, From The Ground Up.