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Farming Officials React to Extension of the 2018 Farm Bill

WILLISTON, N.D. (KUMV) – Over the past year, members of Congress have been holding round table discussions to find out what the people they represent want to see in the next Farm Bill. Due to the threat of a shutdown last month, the Senate and House had little choice but to extend the current one.

North Dakota Farmer’s Union President Mark Watne said the extension is a win because it gives farmers some certainty for next year, but it’s also a loss due to halted progress on the new bill.

“We were in the dialogue, and that kind of stops now because when you extend it, it pauses the debate,” said Watne.

The feelings are similar for Montana Grain Growers Association President Nathan Keane. He said it’s important to have a working Farm Bill, but he feels it needs some changes, especially when it comes to reference prices for improved risk mitigation.

“One of the big things is reference price for wheat. Being as low as it is at $5.50/bu and that’s not even at breakeven price currently for production wheat,” said Keane.

With the Farm Bill in place through September, the question becomes, ‘When will Congress resume work on the new legislation?’ The hope among legislators is for it to be done well ahead of the deadline.

“I am pushing the Agriculture Committee, both [Senators] Stabenow and Boozeman, the chairman and ranking member, to get this thing done,” said Sen. Jon Tester, D-MT.

“We are going to have to get to work and make sure we have a much-improved Farm Bill after this next year,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-ND.

For farmers, the Farm Bill is necessary as it provides programs designed to help them when times are tough. It also plays an important role for the public by funding nutritional programs like SNAP. That’s why Watne and Keane said they will continue to keep the pressure on lawmakers as they look to reauthorize the bill over another six-year period.

This is not the first time the Farm Bill has gone past its original deadline. In 2018, the bill was signed into law nearly three months after its deadline.

Source : KUMV