farm bill

After the U.S. House of Representatives failed to pass a five-year farm bill last week, California farmers and farm organizations are considering the possibilities and still hoping a finished bill can make it out of Congress and be signed by the president by Sept. 30, when the current farm bill is set to expire.

The bill funds nutrition programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, often referred to as the food stamp program, and authorizes a variety of programs related to conservation, pest and disease prevention, trade promotion and other activities. The House rejected the farm bill primarily because of disagreement about how much to reduce funding for nutrition programs.

Josh Rolph of the California Farm Bureau Federation Federal Policy Division called the bill’s failure “very disappointing.”

“It just adds more frustration for those who rely on certainty in farm policy,” Rolph said. “We will now work diligently to ensure a farm bill is passed before the Sept. 30 deadline.”

According to Rolph, there are now essentially three realistic options: The House Agriculture Committee can begin anew and draft a revised bill; the House can bring up the version of the farm bill already adopted by the Senate; or Congress can extend current law for another year or two. A fourth option, Rolph said, is that none of the above occurs and federal farm policy reverts to 1949 law, but he said he does not expect that to happen.