When the 2014 Farm Bill was being negotiated it was during a time with relatively high commodity prices and opponents of the bill wanted to take a lot of money out of it and not provide much of a safety net for farmers. Work continues on a new Farm Bill that some believe is close to coming to a vote in the House and Senate. Joe Outlaw is Co-Director of the Agricultural and Food Policy Center at Texas A&M University.
“There were outside sources who were trying to have influence and began saying things are never going to be bad again. And so the fight was to try and make sure that people understood that you don’t do a farm bill for the good times. You do it for the bad times.”
Outlaw was quick to point out the changes that took place after the 2014 program was created.
“Since that bill was passed, prices have fallen by, some prices have fallen by a third to a half of where they were when the farm bill was being debated. So obviously, crop agriculture has really suffered relative to when that fourteen farm bill was passed.”
Outlaw says that with commodity prices being what they were, farmers have been very fortunate in recent years.
“If it hadn’t been for above average crops in this state and others, for certain commodities, not every commodity, we would be in a full blown farm financial crisis in this nation. But what we’ve had, we got lucky the last two years in a row with above average yields, and when you have an above average yield you’re able to break even.”
Outlaw stresses that just kicks the can down the road on the crisis situation.
“And if we don’t have good yields this year, you’re going to be hearing a lot about a lot of people not getting loans the next year and being in severe financial stress. Fast forward to this Farm Bill. We have to have a Farm Bill in place that’s done reasonably soon that has a strong enough safety net. We’re never going to make people whole when they have losses. The safety net is a minimal level of support that tries to allow them to make it to the next year.”