Farm Bill impasse frustrates Black -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Farm Bill impasse frustrates Black

Commissioner Gary Black Commissioner Gary Black

Georgia's Agriculture Commissioner is airing his frustration over Washington's inability to pass a new version of the Farm Bill.

A move by House republicans to cut food stamps from the bill set off a new round of partisan debate.

But as the bill nears its deadline, Commissioner Gary Black says it could have profound impact on not just farmers, but agricultural colleges here in south Georgia.

The debate over the farm bill continues on Capitol Hill. Meanwhile farmers in south Georgia are anxious for the political bickering over the legislation to stop.

"If this one expires, we would go back to 1949 law which quite frankly, the cost escalators involved in that, this country could not afford,"  said Georgia Ag commissioner Gary Black.

Black hopes that doesn't happen. But so far lawmakers have been at odds over the 600 page bill, 80% of which funds the nation's food stamp program. A program House Republicans axed late Wednesday in a new version of the bill.

"While some of those (food assistance programs) are needed, we've got to have a balance and farmers get what they need and consumers also play a role in this as we move towards a vote," Black said.

Black says if the bill doesn't pass on or before the September 30th deadline, the hit to consumers and Ag education would be detrimental.

"Without a farm bill we have serious consequences at our institution of higher learning and other consumer protection areas," Black said.

It would ultimately slash federal Ag science funding to schools like ABAC and UGA's Tifton campus. Money in the bill also funds meat inspection.

The Obama administration has vowed to veto the House GOP bill, largely over the absence of nutrition funding, meaning the partisan back-and-forth will continue until both sides can reach an agreement. Until then programs for both farmers and consumers hang in the balance.

"It's so important now for our leaders to come together and cast aside some differences and let's find a piece of reasonable policy."

And the sooner, the better.


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