When the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2013 failed to pass the U.S. House of Representatives last week, many farmers were faced with the difficult realization that uncertainty in farm country will continue.
According to Rodney Mosier, executive vice president of the Texas Wheat Producers Association (TWPA), this vote was not the first letdown for farmers hoping for a five-year farm bill. After House leadership prevented the bill from floor consideration last year, a one-year extension of 2008 policy was hurriedly passed in January.
“The policy that came before the House last week was a product of several years of hearings, deliberations and compromise,” said Mosier. “Getting everyone to achieve consensus again will be a challenge.”
TWPA President Ben Scholz said wheat farmers across Texas were especially disappointed with the failure as they had great interest in policy items in the House version.
“Our association really favored the farm policy items in the House version,” said Scholz, a wheat farmer from Lavon. “Right now we have a bill that has passed the Senate, but no obvious way forward in the House.”
Scholz explained that the demise of the bill will be felt for a long time if new action is not taken prior to September 30, when the current extension expires.
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“Most agricultural practices demand a lot of forward thought and planning for the future,” said Scholz. “Right now I am making decisions with no clear idea of what my risk management options will be next year.”
Mosier said that the consequences could reach farther than the farm gate.
“Farming operations provide a large boost to local economies, but if we do not see long-term policy passed that impact may decrease,” said Mosier. “Most farmers can not secure financing without proof of crop insurance and the assurance of a sustainable safety net. It is hard for financial institutions to continue approving loans when no one knows what the farm safety net will look like.”
Scholz said he greatly appreciates the work that has been done by the House Agricultural Committee and the U.S. Senate to generate progress, but expressed concern about the House’s inability to pass legislation that provided security for farmers and contributed significantly to budget savings.
“As for what will happen with the farm bill now - time will tell,” said Scholz. “I will be back on my farm wrapping up wheat harvest and doing what I can to facilitate what lies ahead.”
According to Mosier, the work for the association is far from over. He said members and staff will continue working on options and providing input to legislative leaders as they work to protect the future of the farm safety net.