Farm Bill Debate

By: Rachel Yonkunas Email
By: Rachel Yonkunas Email

As farmers harvest their cotton or plan for peanuts, one thing remains on their mind: the Farm Bill.

"The uncertainty is really what's hurting the agriculture in general,” said Carl Sanders, a farmer in Coffee County.

The current farm bill expired in late September, but congress has yet to reach on deal on the "dairy cliff." They must either extend the current bill, or pass a new one.

Sanders said, "It is has worked the last two farm bills, but it's expensive for the government."

Congress wants to cut direct payments to farmers, but that would make stiff changes.

"If there were any cuts you'd make it a percentage across the board,” explained Sanders.

If Congress doesn’t make a decision, farmers would lose billions of dollars in financing. As a result, higher government support prices and higher consumer prices would occur.

Alabama State Representative, Martha Roby, expressed, "Significantly higher milk prices which then translates to significantly higher cheese prices and so on and so forth."

However, prices at the grocery store may go up or down, but farmers say the issue is stability

"Without the farm bill you lose that stability in the markets so you would see fluctuations in prices. I have to order seed, i have to order fertilizer, and I have to do all this in advance and everything’s just up in the air,” said Sanders.

The new bill might entail acreage control, increase cost of production, or payment cuts from the government.
But some say that isn't a bad thing.

"I'm the first to tell you that farm bill's not perfect, but it's good for Alabama, good for Alabama’s farmers and if there's an opportunity to pass it I’m for it,” explained Roby.

Farmers say they are open to any deal as long as they can start planning ahead for spring.


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