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Farm bill unlikely to move past Senate

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November 28, 2007

Tift County -- The farm bill that sets prices and subsidies and serves as a safety net for thousands of farmers is about to run out, and Congress can't agree on a new one.

Now, farmers have little guidance as to how they should plan for the next growing season.

The 2007 farm bill passed the U.S. House in July, but it came to a grinding halt in the Senate following months of debate and setbacks.

"I think there's a lot of members in the Senate that want to put extracurricular writers on it, and that's what's slowing it down," says U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga.

It's likely the 2007 farm bill won't pass in 2007; mostly due to partisan disagreement in the Senate over additional amendments. That means thousands of U.S. farmers are left with a lot of questions.

"We're trying to make plans for the next five years, and until you know the details of the farm bill, you can't make the plan. Until the farm bill is unstopped in the Senate, we cannot make our farm plans for the next year," says Tyrone Spearman, Georgia Peanut Commission.

Here in southwest Georgia, a region where crops were hit hard by the ongoing drought, farmers will remain in the dark on matters such as subsidies and market conditions. But if the bill doesn't make it past the Senate in December, the House has introduced a bill to extend the current farm bill.

"People have got to make planting decisions, and they can't wait on Washington politics. We want farmers to have some financial, maybe not stability, but at least some knowledge as to what's going to be out there. So if the farm doesn't move in the next 2 weeks, we should probably consider moving the existing one one more year," says Kingston.

With frustration from the corn fields to the halls of Congress, an extension will allow further debate, but farmers are growing weary of the stalemate in the Senate.

"Let's get it on. We're ready to go. We have to make our make plans, so I say pass it," says Spearman.

And if that's the case, you can bet the Senate will be burning the midnight oil before they adjourn the 2007 session.

However, if an agreement is not met, there are talks that the current farm bill could be extended by 2 years or into the next presidential administration.

Feedback: news@walb.com?subject=farmbillfrustration/CF

 

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