Posted: Nov 28, 2012 7:15 PM by Marnee Banks (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Montana farmers are keeping an eye on Washington, D.C., to see if Congress will act on the Farm Bill before the end of the year.
Bruce Wright, vice-president of the Montana Farm Bureau Federation and also a Bozeman-area farmer, said that the problem with not having a Farm Bill is the uncertainty.
Wright says if Congress doesn't pass a Farm Bill, many farms could go out of business; he added, "Why we need the Farm Bill is so that we know what to plan on and expect from the government's involvement in agriculture."
About 30 programs in the Farm Bill have already expired including funding for the dairy program and the CRP.
But Wright says the biggest provision, the crop insurance program, is the most important safety net of all: "It does keep farmers in business. That's where the food comes from. So if you are keeping farmers in business you are ensuring a food supply."
The federal government has historically helped farmers pay for crop insurance, so when they have a bad year the insurance company will pay the farmer regardless of the harvest. That program expires at the end of the year, so U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) is working to get a Farm Bill included in the year-end budget negotiations.
Baucus said, "It's my job and the job of members of Congress to pass good farm legislation, help small business, farmers and ranchers, small business people boost their income."
Baucus says the Senate's bill renews the crop insurance program and cuts the federal deficit by $23 billion, with crop subsidies feeling half of the cuts.
About 80% of the Farm Bill is funding for the food stamps program.
Wright says the portion that goes directly to Montana farmers is a small piece of the pie, but it's a piece that's critical to keeping Montana agriculture alive.
U.S. Representative Denny Rehberg (R-MT) and U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) also support passing a Farm Bill before the end of the year.