Government shutdown leads to farm bill complications

Government shutdown leads to farm bill complications



WASHINGTON, D.C.  While many in our nation's capital are worried about the effects of a prolonged government shutdown, there are farmers and food stamp beneficiaries who rely on the policies in the stalled farm bill - policies that expired the same time the shutdown began.

"We're really operating on fumes," said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chair of the Agriculture Committee.

Stabenow said not having a new farm bill means uncertainty for farmers trying to plan for the year ahead.

"We won't have new funding to partner on conservation," she said.

"We will not have disaster assistance we had in the bill for cherry growers and livestock producers."

However, Stabenow said it is not the end of the world just yet, but if there's still no bill in January, depression-era subsidies kick in, which she said costs "unnecessary money."

One of the biggest sticking points has been the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps. The Senate's farm bill cuts $4 billion from the program.

However, the House of Representatives decided to remove food stamps entirely from their version of the bill, followed by a cut to funding by $40 billion.

Both the House and Senate versions would help reduce the deficit, but just how much depends on what both sides can negotiate during a conference committee.

"We just have to step up and get it done," Stabenow said. "There's just no excuse for it."