Congress went home to hit the campaign trail last week without taking any action on a new farm bill and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says that means some programs will expire at the end of this month.
“I’m concerned about the fact that some of the smaller conservation programs will not be authorized, nor will there be any money appropriated for them, which will limit our capacity to do good work in conservation,” said Vilsack. “We know there’s continued interest in CRP, but we will be unable to provide any new sign ups for CRP.” USDA’s Farm Service Agency notified state and county offices last week that they will will not be able process any new enrollments for Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts after September 30.
Secretary Vilsack is frustrated and disappointed that House leadership failed to allow a vote on the bill passed by the agriculture committee, and he thinks they have ulterior motives. “I don’t think it’s simply issues involving nutrition assistance,” he said. “I think the House leadership also has plans to significantly cut and reduce support for farm programs – conservation programs, commodity title, as well as the crop insurance title.”
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) told reporters last week before Congress called it quits that they would deal with a farm bill after the election because he did not believe there were 218 votes to pass either an extension or new legislation. “The current situation that we face is that we’ve got people who believe there’s not enough reform in the farm bill that came out of committee, and others who believe there’s too much reform in the bill that came out of committee,” Boehner said. “But when we get back, we will deal with the issue of the farm bill.”