Farm Bill closer to passing, farmers rejoice - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Farm Bill closer to passing, farmers rejoice

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TIFTON, GA (WALB) -

South Georgia farmers are glad to hear Congress may finally pass the long-delayed farm bill.

Both the Senate and House Agriculture committees approved versions this week.

Each would make major changes to how peanut farmers operate, but they're glad to have some certainty.

Georgia Peanut Commission Chairman Armond Morris and Executive Director Don Koehler say they're happy a new farm deal is moving along swiftly.

The five year, $940-billion does away with direct payments to farmers, but farmers would have protection if a natural disaster like last year's drought occurs.

"We lost direct payments but we were able to maintain a safety net so that when we get into weather disasters or other crisis… when we get into really bad market situations, things like that, there is a safety net under the farmer and the rural communities. The rural communities depend on the farmers to have some money to spend in their local economy," said Koehler.

Farmers are also happy to see congress working together to get a new deal done seeing that one wasn't reached last year, an extension was granted but ends in September.

"In these perilous times that we have as far as government needing to cut and us trying to reduce spending, we're excited that we got it done and worked out," said Morris.

The farm bill proposals would make major cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps.

The House bill cuts $40-billion over the next 10 years in nutrition with over $20-billion in food stamps. The Senate is proposing $23-billion in cuts with $4-billion of that being food stamps.

Congressional leaders must still negotiate a deal

As for Koehler, he's ready to start harvesting peanuts and put this issue behind him.

"We're really right along where we need to be. We need to be done at the end of May planting the peanut crop and I think we're on target to do that," said Koehler.

Lawmakers hope to approve a new bill before the August recess. The current farm bill extension expires September 30th.

 

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