Bud Baggett is a farmer in Marianna. He's still feeling the effects from last year's rain, which cost him 60 percent of his cotton production.
“It was unreal,” said Baggett, of Baggett Farms. “It was flood after flood and we weren’t able to gather some of our crop.”
Yet, what really drowned his season was the farm bill—or lack thereof. Without it, farmers could not plan for next season, or see relief from those floods. Now, a new one is in place that addresses long-overdue issues.
“This has reforms in dairy, this has reforms in direct payments, this has reforms in citrus, and in Florida, the citrus element is enormous,” said U.S. Representative Steve Sutherland, a Florida Republican.
The 2014 Farm Bill has something previous farm bills never offered, and that is choices. Farmers can now choose their five-year plan.
“If you’re a livestock producer, then the insurance programs that will address droughts and the indemnity programs that will address livestock loss, are funded permanently in the Farm Bill,” said Frank Lucas (R-OK), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.
Farmers can choose plans based on individual needs, adding money for research or specialty crops, which was ignored in previous bills. Though farmers will not see direct government payments unless hit with unpredictable weather or a market change, Baggett said that's okay.
“If this farm bill was in place last year, I think it would have given all the farmers support,” said Baggett. “It's locked in for five years. That's the main thing, so we know we have certainty for five years.”
Their stability defines prices, which ultimately benefits consumers.