Farm Bill to be Debated Wednesday, Montana Farm Representatives Hopeful
On October 30, the U.S. Congress will head back to the drawing board and attempt to pass an omnibus Farm Bill. According to representatives from the Montana Farmer's Union, ranchers and farmers have a lot at stake in the decisions being made in Washington.
"Right now, one of the major problems facing farmers and ranchers nationwide is dealing with disasters," said Montana Farmer's Union Legislative Specialist Chris Christiaens. "I read in the paper today that the loss of livestock in South Dakota has now reached $1.2 billion. There is no disaster program... it expired. So those farmers and ranchers, though they may be keeping track of the number of animals dead, there is nothing in place to assist them for replacing those loss animals. Unless there is a new Farm Bill, all of that disaster assistance goes away. There's an awful lot riding on the lack of a Farm Bill."
Drama from the recent government shutdown hasn't dampened Christaens' spirits that a new Farm Bill is possible.
"The fact that there was bipartisan work to get government back into business, and the fact that you have an election year coming up in 2014, may tell some people that they need to do some work, and that they need to get this piece [the Farm Bill] back and working," Christiaens said.
Food stamps (also known as the SNAP Program) will be a major issue when the debate starts up again this Wednesday. The Republican led House of Representatives wants to make $39 billion in cuts to food stamps, while the Democrat led Senate only wants $4 billion in cuts. The entire Farm Bill package, if passed, has an estimated price tag of $500 billion.