The verdict is in: The U.S. Congress will not pass a new farm bill in 2013 to replace the 2008 law, or extend the 2008 bill this year either.
The House of Representatives did pass a short-term extension before adjourning for the holiday recess. But Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, has said the House bill to extend the status quo will not be considered by the Senate because whatís needed isnít an extension, itís an entirely new farm bill.
Letting the clock run out on the most recent extension of the 2008 bill could mean reverting back to the 1949 law. The results? Higher food prices, especially in highly-perishable milk and dairy products.
However, U.S. Department of Agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack has said in effect, that itís too early to panic. According to the secretary, it would take a little time for the USDA to adjust their rules to the reality of the 1949 law coming back into play, and consumers would see little change, until at least the end of January.
Thatís obviously not much of a reprieve and Vilsack knows it; heís adamant about the need for a new farm bill as soon as possible.
According to Secretary Vilsack, here are the top 10 reasons America needs a new farm bill now:
1 - Americaís farmers, ranchers and producers need certainty about the next five years of U.S. farm policy, to continue the recent momentum of the U.S. agricultural economy and rising farm income.
2 - Livestock producers need disaster assistance applied retroactively, in light of a long-term drought that has forced the liquidation of herds to the lowest level in decades.
3 - Dairy producers need an effective support system that helps them to stem the decline in the number of U.S. dairy operations.
4 - Farmers, landowners and forest owners need streamlined conservation programs that will make a more efficient and effective use of limited conservation funds, while building on record conservation efforts underway today.
5 - Organic and specialty crop producers need renewed and expanded access to Farm Bill programs that have fueled the growth of a multibillion dollar industry in direct-to-consumer sales.
6 - Researchers and students at Land Grant Universities need support to meet modern challenges in agriculture and carry out the innovation we need to sustainably increase agricultural production.†A new, nonprofit research foundation provided by a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill could leverage millions of dollars of private sector funding to provide this assistance.
7 - Job seekers in rural America need new and expanded investments in renewable energy, biofuel, and bio-based product manufacturing, all of which can create jobs in rural areas.
8 - Beginning producers Ė including a growing number of veterans returning to the land Ė need technical assistance, credit and affordable crop insurance to get started and keep growing. This is especially important as we seek to reverse the rising average age of Americaís farm population.
9 - Producers and small business owners need a resolution of the Brazil cotton dispute that if left unsolved, threatens hundreds of millions of dollars annually in tariff penalties against U.S. agricultural products and other American-made goods.
10 Ė And, anyone who is concerned about the Federal deficit needs a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill that provides meaningful deficit reduction.