Congress must pass farm bill

The Observer-Dispatch, Utica, N.Y.: Among the casualties of the government shutdown are this nation’s farmers. By extension, that includes all Americans. One of the first orders of business once Washington untangles itself is to approve a new Farm Bill.

The Farm Bill expired Sept. 30 and is the government’s primary agricultural and food policy tool. While a large portion of the funding is for nutrition assistance programs, such as food stamps, it also provides a safety net for farmers while allowing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to control milk supplies and keep prices stable for consumers. Lack of a policy — and the safety net — creates uncertainty for farmers, and, some say, could drive milk prices to outrageous levels — $6 to $8 per gallon.

While that would be disastrous for consumers, it would be even worse for America’s farmers. Farming operations already involve too many guessing games. Lack of a farm policy affects how farmers run their farms, says Steve Ammerman of the New York state Farm Bureau.

Rep. Richard Hanna, R-Barneveld, says the new Farm Bill would provide the stability New York farmers need instead of just extending the current program, which he calls outdated and in some instances wasteful and harmful.

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