The Farm bill covers the country’s agricultural funding, conservation efforts, and food aid. Congress passes a new farm bill every five years. The five-year timeline is triggered by sunset provisions (expiration dates) for specific programs contained in the previous bill.
On September 30, 2018, the 2014 Farm Bill expired and Congress has not yet passed an extension for the 2014 Bill. Without an extension for the 2014 previsions, the federal price supports revert to the 1949 levels. Basically, this means wheat and dairy would still be supported, but soybean would not as they were not included in the 1949 legislation.
This lapse does not affect crop insurance as its funding is authorized under the Federal Crop Insurance Act.
However, conservation programs and other incentive programs such as specialty crops and trade assistance may be at risk. For example., until either an extension or a new bill is passed, FSA will not approve, process, or authorize any CRP contracts, including processing extensions on expiring CRP contracts. Additionally, the Land and Water Conservation Fund and federal matching for statewide agricultural groups also expired October 1st.
While there is some talk of passing an extension to cover the gap, it appears Congress will wait until after the mid-term elections on November 6th to re-engage in negotiations. While this does not amount to a crisis yet, it does add uncertainty for planting decisions that must be made soon. If Congress fails to pass a new bill during the lame-duck session after the mid-term elections, there may be additional reason to worry.
We’ll keep you posted.