Congress left Washington for its August recess Friday without passing a new farm bill and the current farm bill extension will expire just weeks after lawmakers are scheduled to return. While Congress is on holiday, some farmers still need to make plans for the future. Riley Lewis grows crops and raises hogs in Winnebago County.
“Even though it’s August, the rents are being renegotiated and the farmers are putting together their packages for next year,” Lewis says. He says it’s hard to commit to rental rates, much less land purchases or capital expenses, when farmers don’t know what crop insurance or other programs will look like. Steve Hemingway farms 25-hundred acres near Iowa City.
“Agriculture is a business and it can be a family business, it can be a commercial business, but it ultimately has to be a busines. And whether or not it deserves subsidization more than other businesses I think is a debate that we don’t seem to have,” Hemingway says. Hemingway says farmers no longer need direct payments, but he fears another last-minute extension will continue those for another year.
The Senate passed a comprehensive farm bill early in the summer. The House separated the food and nutrition portion out of farm bill. That leaves the House and Senate billions of dollars apart and the farm bill in limbo. Congress won’t return to Washington until September ninth.