As the government shutdown begins for another week, many TFD readers have told me they’re being affected by it. They aren’t getting FSA loans, grants aren’t going out, and conservation programs are on hold.
But even if the government gets funded, there’s one other looming issue: we’re now operating under the 1949 Farm Bill.
Remember, the 2008 Farm Bill officially expired at 11:59pm on September 30. The Senate passed a comprehensive bill a while back. The House, on the other hand, failed to pass a comprehensive bill. However, enough votes were rallied and the House first passed the farm portion of the Farm Bill, and then later passed the food stamp portion of the Farm Bill.
The next step will be a conference of House members and Senators to work out the differences in the bills and then each chamber will have to pass that bill. And it looks like we’re finally making progress.
Last week, Representative Kristi Noem announced Speaker Boehner has assured her that he will choose representatives to conference with the Senate this week. (See her press release here.) Saturday, by a voice vote, the House voted to go to a conference with a Senate over the Farm Bill.
True to his word, Speaker Boehner announced the individuals that would sit on the conference:
House Committee on Agriculture conferees:
- Rep. Frank D. Lucas (R-OK), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee
- Rep. Steve King (R-IA)
- Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX)
- Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL)
- Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-TX)
- Rep. Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA)
- Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA)
- Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR)
- Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL)
- Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD)
- Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA)
- Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL)
- Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL)
House Foreign Affairs Committee conferees:
- Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman
- Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA)
House Ways & Means Committee conferees:
- Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), Chairman
- Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX)
The blizzard has been called “the perfect storm.” Reading about the devastation is terrible.
Cattle died of hypothermia or suffocated under snowdrifts after a “perfect storm” brought rain, then record snowfall and strong winds to the portion of the state west of the Missouri River, said Silvia Christen, executive director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association.
“It’s anyone’s guess how drastic this loss will be. The cattle were soaked to the bone. Then the wind and really heavy snow started – it just clung to them and weighed them down,” Christen said.
“Many of them just dropped where they were walking,” she said, adding that at least 5 percent of the roughly 1.2 million cattle in the western third of South Dakota likely perished.
. . .
For the cattle, the storms came too early in the season for the animals to grow their heavier winter coats. Many of the dead included young calves ready to be marketed as well as cows pregnant with calves that would have been born in the spring.
Our hearts and prayers go out to those who have suffered from these losses. To add insult to injury, the government shutdown is preventing these ranchers from moving on.
The ranchers would be eligible for disaster relief — but the USDA is closed down. Therefore, they can’t fill out the paperwork and they can’t get any help.
Plus (as if we needed more bad news), with no Farm Bill, there is uncertainty about whether or not those disaster relief programs would even be funded right now. That means it would take an act of Congress (ha!) to actually get those ranchers any help.
It didn’t take long, but we’re already seeing the effects of not having a modern Farm Bill — and the government shutdown isn’t helping the situation. We desperately need to get the government back up and running, and also get a comprehensive Farm Bill passed.