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WI ag groups in 'wait-and-see mode' on Farm Bill

bmargaret - stock.adobe.com

The current Farm Bill expires Sept. 30 and with a looming government shutdown, reauthorization does not appear imminent.

Wisconsin farm groups say most of the effects would not be felt right away, but there is still uncertainty in the air. The Farm Bill, which is updated every five years, covers a range of agriculture policies like crop insurance, and funds government food assistance.

Michelle Ramirez-White, policy coordinator for the Wisconsin Farmers Union, said December and January are the more concerning deadlines if action does not materialize. In the meantime, she said they will keep fighting for provisions to establish market fairness within agriculture.

"We just see these issues of competition needing to be addressed in a more holistic and composite way," Ramirez-White contended.

As for timelines, she warned dairy prices would see an upheaval if a new bill is not approved by the end of this year. Ag experts said it would be a major blow to consumers and exports. The Farm Bill has generally enjoyed bipartisan support, but some GOP House members are pushing hard for spending cuts, complicating spending talks, including for agriculture.

Margaret Krome, policy program director at the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, said they have a mixed outlook on the state of the Farm Bill. She noted thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, some key conservation programs are reauthorized for several years. Other programs, such as providing grants to farmers to bring their products to market, would at least still operate on autopilot.

"They will, maybe not be all able to sign contracts, but they will be able to continue to function up until the end of December," Krome pointed out. "But we are watching to make sure that they get implemented properly."

Krome added the Institute is worried about talks in Congress to essentially boost commodity payouts for a limited group of farmers elsewhere in the country. She warned advancing the proposal would come at the expense of broader conservation funding.

Mike Moen is a radio news reporter with nearly two decades of experience in the field. He has covered much of the upper Midwest, including Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin and the Dakotas. Many of his stories have aired nationally, including several public radio programs.
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