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Farmers anxious for a Farm Bill vote
Le Roy, N.Y. -- Earlier this week, passing a federal budget wasn't the only thing Congress failed to do.
The Farm Bill also expired and farmers and ranchers across the country are on edge.
The Farm Bill provides loss of crop insurance, loans for new farms and grants to farmers so they can adhere to safety, environmental and labor regulations.
Dale Stein, a dairy farmer in Le Roy, says the Farm Bill is vital to his farms survival.
There are an awful lot of programs that help the farmers meet regulations that are tied into that Farm Bill, if all that goes away, the cost [to run the farm] goes up, Stein explained. If the cost goes up, supplies will go down.
Stein points to the example of his lagoon cover. He says the project cost $300,000 to build and is meant to reduce greenhouse gases by collecting and flaring off methane. He hopes to one day install a system to use the methane to generate electicity.
Stein says that the Farm Bill provided $200,000 for the project.
Without the Farm Bill, this lagoon cover would not have been possible, Stein said.
With the legislators focused on the government shutdown and the debate over raising debt ceiling, Stein and other farmers are worried that the Farm Bill isnt on the radar for lawmakers.
I think that by now, they would have met and conferenced or something, Stein said. Its extremely frustrating that this is just one emergency problem after another and they are really accomplishing nothing. Im not even sure if the Farm Bill is on the table any more. Is it going to get addressed now?
If the Farm Bill doesnt get signed into law before the end of the year, the government will be forced to pay farmers based on productions costs from the 1940s. Industry experts say this will cause milk prices will skyrocket.
Stein believes that his milk prices could double and that will gravely affect consumers.
Its going to cost consumers more in the marketplace if were not able to produce a cheap, high quality food product, he explained.
Crop growers also receive loss of crop insurance and with unpredictable growing seasons, farmers say they need the insurance as a safety net.
Generally, lawmakers dont have a problem with the agricultural components of the Farm Bill. Democrat and Republican lawmakers have been at odds over the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program, otherwise known as the food stamps program.
The House and Senate passed two different versions over the Farm Bill but must come together in conference to work out the differences, vote on the bills and then send it to the president to be signed into law.
Farmers hope this happens soon because they have to start planning for the spring growing season within the next month or so.