The countdown to the next farm bill has begun. The current farm bill will expire in approximately 715 days, but who’s counting?
In reality, I may be one of the few who has a countdown started, but, the fact of the matter is that it’s important for farmers and ranchers around the country to start thinking about and providing input on the next farm bill.
An additional reality is that we actually have less than 715 days to write the next farm bill as weekends and holidays need to be considered as does the Congressional calendar that is set next Congress. In fact, if we use this Congress’ calendar as a base, our elected officials will have less than 250 “work period” days in 2011 and 2012 to write the next farm bill, pass it out of both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate Agriculture Committees, pass it out of both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, hold a conference committee to work out the differences in the two bills, pass it in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate again and finally have it signed into law by the President. 715 days doesn’t seem so far away does it?
What to Consider
Some things to think about when considering the next farm bill:
*The 2008 Farm Bill cost $307 billion over five years.
*68 percent of the 2008 Farm Bill was dedicated to nutrition programs, 11 percent to commodity programs and 8 percent to conservation programs.
*Our members of Congress have indicated that the next Congress will be challenged with the task of cutting budgets to reduce the federal deficit, which means less money for legislation like the farm bill.
*Given the difficult financial times we are facing, and the reality that cuts will be made, what is working in the farm bill, what is not and where can changes be made?
Over the next two years, you will have many opportunities to make your voice heard regarding the farm bill. Watch for farm bill hearings or forums being held in Minnesota, contact your member of Congress and Senators, and, as a Farm Bureau member, get involved in the policy development process.
Our voting delegate session to set our policy for the upcoming year will be held on Friday, November 19 during our 92nd Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in Brooklyn Park at the Northland Inn. I invite all of you to attend our Annual Meeting November 18-20. In addition to our voting delegate session, this is a time for all Farm Bureau members to celebrate our accomplishments and learn more about topics important to agriculture. I look forward to visiting with you at our Annual Meeting. Thank you to all of our members for everything you do for our organization and for your desire to make a positive impact for farmers and rural Minnesota.