U.S. House and Senate lawmakers are still months away from passing a new Farm Bill. The legislation, which governs an array of federal agricultural and food programs, is set to expire in 2018.
Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. That committee and the House Committee on Agriculture are currently working to rewrite the Farm bill.
Roberts says his goal is to get the bill passed in October, or at the very latest, early next year.
"Farmers would rather have a farm bill sooner than later. They want stability; they want predictability. This is no time to rewrite the Farm Bill completely. I think they’ve had enough of that."
Roberts says the committee has heard from agriculture producers, general farm organizations, and crop insurance professionals, as well as agriculture lenders on what is working and what needs to be changed in the upcoming Farm Bill.
Hearings were held the past few months in Washington, D.C. and in several states including Kansas.
The current Farm Bill was enacted in 2014 and is set to expire on September 30, 2018. If a new bill is not completed on time, an extension would be necessary to keep funding in place to ensure that programs continue.
The Farm Bill includes commodity price and income supports, farm credit, trade, agricultural conservation, research, rural development, energy, and foreign and domestic food programs, among other programs.
Roberts says he’s concerned that obstructionism in the U.S. Senate is slowing down the process of getting seven undersecretaries approved for the Department of Agriculture.
"I don’t think the President is going to get his full team on board until next year. And that’s really egregious," Roberts says. "It’s a bad situation."
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